Felipe Massa quickest as deluge limits FP3 running
Italian Grand Prix - Free Practice 3

Felipe Massa quickest as deluge limits FP3 running

A heavy rainstorm on Saturday morning limited the third and final practice session for the Italian Grand Prix to a handful of laps.

Rain had been forecast to hit FP2 on Friday that session remained dry, only for heavy rain to hit the circuit later in the evening. A similar deluge occurred on Saturday morning, forcing support series GP3 to cancel its scheduled qualifying session. Though the 60-minute FP3 timing clock started as usual at 1100 local time the session was delayed indefinitely as the Safety Car did multiple laps of the soaked circuit.

Eventually the session resumed with around 16 minutes left on the clock, with drivers tentatively heading out on the full wet tyres. Williams' Felipe Massa emerged as the quickest of the seven to set a lap time, posting a 1:40.660. Carlos Sainz's five laps were the most completed by any driver, with most just doing one or two slow installation laps before returning to the pit lane.

The heavy rain continued to fall at the end of the session, raising the possibility of qualifying being run in wet conditions, though the rain is forecast to ease off before that session begins at 1400 local time. Remarkably, most drivers are yet to properly sample Pirelli's full wet tyre this year, but the tyre could be set for its first competitive appearance of the season so far if the rain continues.

Of the championship contenders, neither Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton set a timed lap in the session. Vettel gave the Ferrari fans opposite the grandstand something to cheer about when he walked out into the pit lane during the session, though like most drivers he spent most of the session waiting in the garage.

Those who did stay for any meaningful attempt did not appear to be pushing hard, with Lance Stroll having a wobbly moment through the Roggia chicane on one of his own attempts, highlighting just how wet the track was in the session.

If the rain does continue into qualifying it may help negate some advantage held by Mercedes-powered cars as teams will be forced to compromise on set-up.

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