Italian GP 2017


Practice 3 Report - The rain wins


By Dan Knutson in Monza

Felipe Massa set the fastest lap time in Free Practice 3 for the Italian Grand Prix. But the real winner was the rain that caused the session to be delayed and shortened, and limited most drivers to just one or two exploration laps.

The lineup for the weekend was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Force India Mercedes - Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll; McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Renault - Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer; Toro Rosso Renault - Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz; Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

After being off the pace at Spa, Bottas was back on form at Monza where he clocked the fastest lap - 1:21.406 - on Friday.

"There's no explanation and last weekend is history," the Mercedes driver said of his performance at Spa. "I had a good day (on Friday) and I was happy with the car. I think our car suits the track quite well, but we're still in Ferrari's home ground and I'm sure they'll give it all tomorrow and Sunday. For sure they'll be strong, they'll be a problem for us. We are not underestimating them and we're expecting a tough battle with them."

But the battle in FP3 was one with the rain. It rained heavily in the morning, and the GP3 qualifying session had to be canceled. It was still raining steadily at 11 a.m. local time when FP3 was supposed to start.

Officials declared that the start of the session was "delayed indefinitely due to weather conditions."

The ambient temperature at that time was 57 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Centigrade).

So the drivers and engineers and mechanics and other crew members hung around in the dry garages while the tifosi waited in the rain for something to happen.

Finally, officials announced that the session would start at 11:44 a.m. It would only last 16 minutes.

The drivers got ready to do battle with the wet conditions. Ricciardo left the garage early to make sure he would be first in line to get on the soaking track.

Eight drivers headed out immediately including Verstappen who radioed it was "too slippery" to do a radio check.

Others ventured out for just one installation lap.

Sainz got on the board first with a lap of 1:42.973 followed by a 1:41.515. Other drivers did an install lap and pitted. Hulkenberg shaved 0.024 of a second off of that with his 1:41.491.

Then Massa got down to a 1:40.660.

The rainy session ended with just seven drivers setting times: Massa, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Palmer, Ericsson and Kvyat.