Hamilton fastest as Vettel, Schumacher strike trouble
Lewis Hamilton has set the fastest time in the third and final Formula 1 practice session at Albert Park prior to qualifying this afternoon.
The McLaren driver shot to the top of the order inside the final two minutes – his 1:25.68s effort proving 0.08s quicker than Romain Grosjean’s previous benchmark.
Mark Webber also improved his time late in the session to be third fastest ahead of Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg.
Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel were sixth and seventh respectively despite both being forced to return to the paddock on foot after separate incidents.
Vettel spun his Red Bull into the Turn 6 gravel with 15 minutes remaining after touching the left-hand grass verge on entry, while Schumacher locked his rear brakes at Turn 9 10 minutes later.
Vettel had been running on the medium compound tyres at the time of his mistake, and now heads into qualifying without having completed a soft tyre simulation run
Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10, with the Australian providing just 0.01s faster than team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne.
Felipe Massa and Bruno Senna both endured spins at Turn 15 in the first half hour of running but were able to continue.
It was a difficult session all round for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso managing just the 16th fastest time.
Marussia’s prospects of seeing its cars in the Grand Prix received a boost in FP3 where both Timo Glock and Charles Pic lapped marginally inside the 107% qualifying cut-off.
Fortunes continue to look bleak for HRT however, with the team’s fastest driver, Pedro de la Rosa, 1.5s adrift of the target.
Considerably warmer conditions greeted the for the final practice session, with the track temperature a full 15 degrees hotter than yesterday’s marker.
Qualifying will take place at 1700 local time.
See below for the Practice 3 result
|3||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.900||0.219|
|7||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.211||0.530|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.029||1.348|
|17||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.428||1.747|
|23||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:33.114||7.433|
See below for Speedcafe.com’s Australian Grand Prix Race Guide