Norris fastest in final F1 practice as Aston Martins crash

Lando Norris

McLaren’s Lando Norris has gone fastest in a final practice session for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in which both of the Aston Martins crashed.

Sebastian Vettel caused a red flag when he came unstuck at Albert Park’s flip-flop just beyond the 20-minute mark, while Lance Stroll brought a slightly premature end to Practice 3 when he understeered off and into the barriers at Ascari.

The Canadian’s prang locked Norris into first position for what was to have been an hour-long session after he went as quick as a 1:19.117s, from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on a 1:19.249s and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez on a 1:19.265s.

In an overcast Melbourne, it took almost 10 minutes for anyone to set a time, Norris clocking a 1:21.247s in a McLaren running on the softest compound of tyre (C5) available this weekend.

After a few minutes more, he was beaten by Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Perez, the former setting a 1:21.178s and then the latter a 1:21.024s, on mediums (C3).

Friday pace-setter Leclerc went fastest in the 17th minute with a 1:20.689s in a soft-shod Ferrari, but only held the position for a moment before Perez laid down a 1:20.436s.

Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz then set a 1:20.390s and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo a 1:20.399s, on softs, before Fernando Alonso wheeled his Alpine to a 1:20.119s on mediums.

Around the time that was unfolding, Lewis Hamilton pinched a right-front at Ascari and toured the gravel, appearing to glance the tyre barrier with his Mercedes.

A red flag was triggered in the 21st minute for an even bigger mishap for Sebastian Vettel, whose Aston Martin got loose through the flip-flop and pitched him into the wall on exit of Turn 10.

As the German got a lift back to the paddock on a scooter, having found himself in hot water for riding one on the track 24 hours earlier, Alonso sat on top of the order, from Sainz, Ricciardo, Perez, and Alfa Romeo Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas on a 1:20.517s.

The rest of the top 10 at the time was Leclerc, George Russell (Mercedes), Verstappen, Norris, and Esteban Ocon (Alpine), with Hamilton 15th on a non-representative lap time, and Vettel officially 17th without a time to his name at all.

After a red flag period of just over 10 minutes, action resumed.

Verstappen looked like shifting the benchmark until he had a lazy spin at Turn 13, and it was instead Alonso who went fastest with a 1:19.906s on softs a couple of minutes later.

What followed was something of a duel between the Spaniard and Perez, the latter of whom set a 1:19.720s (on softs), then Alonso a 1:19.660s, and Perez a 1:19.458s in the 41st minute.

Another Spaniard, namely Sainz, usurped them when he set a 1:19.419s on what Scuderia Ferrari claimed was used softs, and he held sway until just over 10 minutes to go, when Norris set a 1:19.117s.

At that point, it was thus the #4 McLaren entry from the #55 Ferrari entry, then Perez, Alonso, and Ricciardo on a 1:19.693s, followed by Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton a 1:19.896s, Russell, and Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri).

Alonso went second-quickest in the 53rd minute with a 1:19.275s, and Leclerc managed a 1:19.249s about two minutes later.

Perez had split them on a 1:19.265s by the time Stroll had his moment at Turn 11, running through the gravel and then skating into the barriers as he tried to drive out.

The red flag was called with about four minutes left, and there would be no resumption in proceedings.

With seemingly no real qualifying simulations, at least from the big guns, the top 10 for the session was Norris, Leclerc, Perez, Alonso, Sainz, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, and Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri).

Norris had been told to abandon a lap just before the red flag came, but McLaren would advise that the instruction was due to Car #4 being low on fuel.

Qualifying starts this afternoon at 16:00 local time/AEST.

Results: Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, Free Practice 3

Pos Num Driver Team Laps Time Diff
1 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team 12 1:19.117
2 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari 15 1:19.249 +0.132s
3 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 17 1:19.265 +0.148s
4 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team 15 1:19.275 +0.158s
5 55 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Ferrari 17 1:19.419 +0.302s
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team 14 1:19.693 +0.576s
7 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 16 1:19.809 +0.692s
8 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 13 1:19.896 +0.779s
9 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo F1 Team 17 1:20.008 +0.891s
10 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 12 1:20.071 +0.954s
11 63 George Russell Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 16 1:20.096 +0.979s
12 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri 14 1:20.133 +1.016s
13 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team 14 1:20.205 +1.088s
14 47 Mick Schumacher Haas F1 Team 17 1:20.692 +1.575s
15 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo F1 Team 16 1:20.836 +1.719s
16 23 Alex Albon Williams Racing 16 1:20.958 +1.841s
17 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team 14 1:21.025 +1.908s
18 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing 14 1:21.050 +1.933s
19 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin F1 Team 11 1:21.636 +2.519s
20 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin F1 Team 5

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