Vettel blitzes Albert Park as Ferrari fight back
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
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||15||1:25.092||1.712|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||11||1:25.948||2.568|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||11||1’26.049||2.669|
|12||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||7||1:26.269||2.889|
|13||Sergio Pérez||Force India||12||1:26.457||3.077|
|16||Esteban Ocon||Force India||16||1:27.103||3.723|