Vettel blitzes Albert Park as Ferrari fight back

Tom Howard

Saturday 25th March, 2017 - 3:15pm

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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest ever lap around Albert Park as Ferrari bounced back in final practice at the Australian Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion stopped the clocks at 1:23.380s towards the end of the hour session as the Maranello team produced a far more impressive display following a disappointing Friday.

Recorded on the ultra-soft tyres, Vettel effort opened up a 0.4s buffer over the top Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, while Friday pacesetter Lewis Hamilton was third.

While fuel loads remain unknown, Mercedes were unable to match the pace it showed on Friday.

The session was brought to a premature end when Williams’ Lance Stroll found the barriers on the exit of Turn 10 in the final 10 minutes.

While Stroll emerged unscathed, his Williams sustained damaged to the right front and rear following the impact.

Final practice didn’t go entirely to plan for Ferrari after Kimi Raikkonen suffered a right rear puncture which occurred before running down an escape road.

The Finn came to a halt before restating the car and returning to the pits.

Raikkonen ended the session in fourth having completed 10 laps.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg produced the surprise of the hit out as he finished fifth ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo once again struggled for outright pace compared to the front runners on the ultra-soft tyres, which left the Australian 1.7s shy of Vettel.

Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean, Carlos Sainz (Toro Ross), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Kevin Magnussen (Haas F1) completed the top 10.

Felipe Massa was the top Williams runner in 11th ahead of Max Verstappen, who logged only seven laps after undergoing several set-up changes design the session.

Fernando Alonso was 14th for McLaren ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.

Antonio Giovinazzi propped up the time sheets following his shock promotion to the race seat as a replacement for Pascal Wehrlein in the sister Sauber.

The field will return to the track for qualifying at 1700 local time.

Result: Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix Practice 3

 Position Driver Car Laps Time Gap
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 12 1:23.380
2  Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 12 1:23.859 0.479
3  Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 12 1:23.870 0.490
4  Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 10 1:23.988 0.608
5  Nico Hülkenberg Renault 10 1:25.063 1.683
6  Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 15 1:25.092 1.712
7  Romain Grosjean Haas 11 1:25.581 2.201
8  Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 11 1:25.948 2.568
9  Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 11 1’26.049 2.669
10  Kevin Magnussen Haas 11 1:26.138 2.758
11  Felipe Massa Williams 15 1:26.237 2.857
12  Max Verstappen Red Bull 7 1:26.269 2.889
13 Sergio Pérez Force India 12 1:26.457 3.077
14  Fernando Alonso McLaren 7 1:26.556 3.176
15  Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 9 1:26.699 3.319
16  Esteban Ocon Force India 16 1:27.103 3.723
17  Lance Stroll Williams 12 1:27.327 3.947
18  Marcus Ericsson Sauber 10 1:27.402 4.022
19  Jolyon Palmer Renault 12 1:28.320 4.940
20  Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber 18 1:28.583 5.203