Practice 3: Montoya leads the way

Juan Pablo Montoya took back the initiative in the Italian Grand Prix weekend by lapping quickest in the second session this morning (Saturday)

Practice 3: Montoya leads the way

The Colombian took two tenths off Michael Schumacher's leading time from the morning session by coming in with a lap of 1m21.468s in the middle of the session. But Schumacher was little more than a tenth further back as the plot continues to thicken ahead of qualifying this afternoon. The Ferrari pilot's time came after a poor first sector, so the potential for a better lap was there.

Marc Gene, who is replacing the injured Ralf Schumacher this weekend, looks like he cannot be counted out of the fight for top places as he took third-best time. His effort, 0.460 behind Montoya, came in a brief but poorly-attended shoot-out after a late red-flag stopped the session.

The halt was caused by a major blow-up of Olivier Panis' Toyota. The Frenchman was forced to park on the straight between Lesmo and Ascari shortly after matching his time from qualifying yesterday and going seventh in the session.

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, pushing the limits of the car, and also looks capable of springing a surprise in qualifying. Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard completed the top six, which was covered by just over six tenths.

Renault look to be off the pace this weekend, with Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso in eighth and tenth places respectively. Trulli led the session early on, but only until the leading players came out. Each improved on his first session time to the tune of four tenths.

A number of drivers, including some who are contracted to Williams and Ferrari, struggled under braking for the second chicane and short-cutted the corner several times. After Ralf Schumacher's qualifying time was disallowed yesterday for running over a chicane, it will be interesting to see the stewards' reaction if anyone does the same this afternoon.

Qualifying takes pace at 1300 BST.

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Saturday Second Free Practice - Italian GP
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