Formula 1

Hamilton leads Vettel in final Australia practice

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Reigning Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton was quickest in final practice ahead of qualifying for this weekend’s season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS driver stormed to a best lap time of 1m27.867s late in the session as drivers began to concentrate on qualifying simulations, and beat Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel into second position by 0.696s.

Friday pacesetter Nico Rosberg could only finish third after his own qualifying simulation, almost a second adrift of his team-mate Hamilton, and just ahead of the two Williams Martini Racing entries of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, with Kimi Raikkonen sixth in the second Ferrari.

Romain Grosjean was seventh quickest for the Lotus F1 Team, with his team-mate Pastor Maldonado eighth, while Carlos Sainz Jr maintained his strong start with ninth place in the leading Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Felipe Nasr completed the top ten for the beleaguered Sauber F1 Team, with team-mate Marcus Ericsson finishing twelfth despite a high-speed spin coming out of turn twelve, just behind the second Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen.

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were thirteenth and fourteenth for the Sahara Force India team as they continue to work through their programme. The team arrive in Australia with very little testing with their 2015 VJM08 machine under their belts, and knew before the weekend began it would be a tough few days in Australia.

Two teams enduring even tougher weekends than Force India are Infiniti Red Bull Racing and McLaren-Honda. For Red Bull, after seeing Daniel Ricciardo be forced to become the first driver to change an engine on Friday, they were hopeful of a positive Saturday practice, but saw both Ricciardo and team-mate Daniil Kvyat complete minimal laps, ending up well off the pace in fifteenth and eighteenth respectively.

McLaren also struggled to find speed, with Kevin Magnussen just ahead of Jenson Button as they finished the session down in sixteenth and seventeenth position, with the chances of the team being eliminated in the first part of qualifying a distinct possibility.

The Manor F1 Team once again failed to get on track, with Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi now likely to miss the race completely due to the team’s continued software issues.

Sebastian Vettel managed to split the two Mercedes during FP3 (Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Media)

Sebastian Vettel managed to split the two Mercedes during FP3 (Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Media)

2015 Australian Grand Prix Free Practice 3 Result

1 44 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes 1m27.867s 11
2 5 Sebastian Vettel GER Ferrari 1m28.563s 13
3 6 Nico Rosberg GER Mercedes 1m28.821s 14
4 77 Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams-Mercedes 1m28.912s 14
5 19 Felipe Massa BRZ Williams-Mercedes 1m28.988s 18
6 7 Kimi Raikkonen FIN Ferrari 1m29.017s 13
7 8 Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus-Mercedes 1m29.481s 12
8 13 Pastor Maldonado VEN Lotus-Mercedes 1m29.864s 15
9 55 Carlos Sainz Jr ESP Toro Rosso-Renault 1m29.869s 19
10 12 Felipe Nasr BRZ Sauber-Ferrari 1m29.934s 24
11 33 Max Verstappen NED Toro Rosso-Renault 1m29.952s 16
12 9 Marcus Ericsson SWE Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.613s 21
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg GER Force India-Mercedes 1m30.741s 14
14 11 Sergio Perez MEX Force India-Mercedes 1m30.993s 17
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo AUS Red Bull-Renault 1m31.185s 10
16 20 Kevin Magnussen DEN McLaren-Honda 1m31.391s 14
17 22 Jenson Button GBR McLaren-Honda 1m31.666s 13
18 26 Daniil Kvyat RUS Red Bull-Renault 1m32.830s 6
19 28 Will Stevens GBR Manor-Ferrari No Time 0
20 98 Roberto Merhi ESP Manor-Ferrari No Time 0
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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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