Lewis Hamilton showcased Mercedes’ strength once again as he edged team-mate Nico Rosberg in the first dry session of the season at Albert Park.
The reigning world champion posted his personal best in the final quarter of the 60 minute hit out which saw Mercedes use the super-soft tyres for the first time on its new W07.
Rosberg, who encountered a spin early in the running, was 0.176s slower than his Silver Arrows rival.
Sebastian Vettel was third fastest with the Ferrari driver just 0.228s adrift of Hamilton following his run on the super-soft compound.
The session provided the first real glimpse into the form book this year with the 60 minute practice run in dry conditions after rain affected Friday’s outings.
A late effort from Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz saw the Spaniard pop up into fourth ahead of the sister Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
Max Verstappen was sixth in front of the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, while Daniel Ricciardo was eighth.
The Red Bull driver had topped the session having been one of the first to fit super-soft tyres, before ending the session 1.1s shy of the pace.
Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10 with the McLaren duo of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button 11th and 12th respectively.
Kevin Magnussen emerged as the top Renault in 15th position with new boys Haas F1 18th and 19th courtesy of Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean joined the session late following tangle in the pit lane with Manor’s Rio Haryanto which inflicted damaged on the Frenchman’s car.
The new elimination qualifying format will make its debut from 1700 local time.
Result: Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix Practice 3, Albert Park
|4||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1:26.257s||+0.633s||28|
|6||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1:26.701s||+1.077s||26|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1:26.768s||+1.144s||22|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1:27.242s||+1.618s||22|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1:27.430s||+1.806s||22|
|16||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1:27.988s||+2.364s||22|