Lewis Hamilton snatched the advantage heading into the Italian GP weekend by topping second practice ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton registered a 1:22.801 on the supersoft tyres to set the pace by just under two tenths of a second on a scorching afternoon at Monza.
Sebastian Vettel was within half a second of Hamilton's benchmark in third, a couple of tenths clear of Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Red Bull enjoyed a stronger afternoon as Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo took fifth and sixth respectively, keeping Ferrari in sight.
Fernando Alonso was an eye-catching P7 for McLaren, who had expected to struggle on the relative 'power circuit', with Valtteri Bottas only eighth for Williams.
Haas will fancy their chances of a first Q3 appearance after Romain Grosjean wound up an encouraging P9, while Jenson Button rounded off McLaren's impressive afternoon in tenth.
Felipe Massa, who hit sensor issues in the latter part of the session, was 11th, with Force India pair Nico Hulkenberg, returning to action after making way for Alfonso Celis this morning, and Sergio Perez nudged down to 12th and 13th respectively by their rivals' improvements.
Esteban Gutierrez couldn't match his team-mate Grosjean in P14 as Sauber's Marcus Ericsson took 15th ahead of Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein.
Carlos Sainz could only manage 17th as Toro Rosso's struggles continued, while Esteban Ocon was 18th after stopping on track midway through proceedings.
Kevin Magnussen finished the session 19th ahead of Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Nasr, with Jolyon Palmer 22nd and last.