Sebastian Vettel was again fastest in final practice for the Italian GP at Monza
Fernando Alonso closes the gap ahead of qualifying, however
By Mike Wise at Monza. Last Updated: September 7, 2013 2:27pm
Fernando Alonso: Second fastest behind Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel was again fastest in final practice for the Italian GP but the World Champion did not end the session with quite the advantage he enjoyed on Friday.
The current title leader lapped the 3.6-mile Monza circuit in a time of 1:24.360s. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was second fastest 0.283s slower, with Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber about three-hundredths further back.
Vettel ended Friday with a gap of over six tenths on Webber and Alonso's closer proximity might give Ferrari fans something to savour ahead of qualifying.
The advantage Vettel enjoyed on the hard tyre was still in the region of half a second. But if he and Red Bull are working towards another display of the type seen in Belgium a fortnight ago then might the weather throw a spanner in the works?
There is a 70 per cent chance of rain in Sunday's race, which teams will have to factor into their decisions regarding set-up. That may, or may not, explain the sudden appearance of Daniel Ricciardo in P6 - Red Bull's new recruit having languished way down the order in his Toro Rosso on Friday.
Elsewhere in the top ten, Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest, although Mercedes' session was otherwise hampered by an overheating problem which struck down Nico Rosberg's car.
McLaren's Sergio Perez was fifth fastest, with Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Jenson Button (McLaren), Pastor Maldonado (Williams) and Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) completing the top ten.
Saturday is the day when Luca di Montezemolo traditionally makes his appearance at Monza and the Scuderia's President duly arrived midway through the session.
Back on the track, it was also at around this point that Alonso and Massa started towing each other. It's not the first time the pair have tried slipstreaming in an attempt to give each other - and particularly Alonso - the best possible grid position at Monza, although a broken rear suspension during qualifying for last year's race left the Spaniard languishing tenth on the grid.
Running on the hard tyre, Alonso split the Red Bulls before Paul di Resta lost his car under braking for the Parabolica. The rear of the Force India snapped out of line, with the Scot then crossing the gravel and nudging the barrier. He eventually wound up 17th fastest.
All the while, Vettel had been chipping away at his lap time on the prime and ended up with a 1:24.551s - the gap to the rest being over half a second.
The cars went out en masse in the final ten minutes to run on the mediums, with Vettel setting a 1:24.478s before improving by another tenth.
Tenth was also the spot where Raikkonen languished - Lotus appearing to struggle in comparison with their performance on Friday if their times are anything to go by.
The Finn was no longer running their longer wheelbase E21, while Romain Grosjean - fourth fastest on Friday behind his team-mate - complained of a lack of grip.
Alonso made the gap to Vettel manageable in the closing seconds. But can he better his rival? As Ferrari's attempts at towing indicate, they are trying every trick in the book to place a scarlet car on pole here.
Qualifying starts at 1pm BST.