Hamilton dictates terms ahead of Monza qualifying

Updated: 

Lewis Hamilton sent an ominous warning to his rivals by producing some blistering pace in the final practice session at the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday.

The reigning world champion had clocked the fastest lap on Friday and the Mercedes driver improved on it ahead of qualifying at Monza, blitzing the field with a time of one minute 22.008 seconds, 0.793secs quicker than his previous best.

Nico Rosberg, who trails the Brit by nine points in the drivers' championship standings, was 0.393secs slower than his team-mate.

And Ferrari, seeking to impress the tifosi on home soil, were left trailing in the wake of the Silver Arrows, Sebastian Vettel clocking the third fastest time of 1:22.946, with Kimi Raikkonen a further 0.351s slower.

The Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Brazilian veteran Felipe Massa, who this week announced his intention to retire from the sport at the end of the season, were fifth and sixth fastest respectively ahead of Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, struggling to keep pace at the 'Cathedral of Speed' compared to Mercedes-powered rivals.

There could be more pace to come from Red Bull in qualifying, though, after not making as much use of their super-soft tyres as Ferrari and Mercedes in the last warm-up session.

Teenager Verstappen, meanwhile, has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons after colliding with both Ferraris at the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend.

And the Dutch newcomer has seemingly not tempered his aggressive approach, becoming involved in incidents during FP3 with Rosberg and Renault's Kevin Magnussen.

Dane Magnussen was 19th fastest on Saturday, as he prepares to race just a week after escaping unhurt from a serious crash at Spa-Francorchamps.