Australian GP: Hamilton beats Vettel to top FP3

Lewis Hamilton completed his domination of Australian Grand Prix practice, as Mercedes maintained an advantage over Ferrari ahead of the first qualifying session of the new Formula 1 season.

Australian GP: Hamilton beats Vettel to top FP3

After topping Friday practice and enjoying a huge advantage over the next-fastest team, Hamilton continued his good form into FP3 on Saturday afternoon.

He hit the head of the times as soon as he pumped in a first flying lap and regained the advantage on the two occasions he was briefly bumped back.

The first came seconds after Valtteri Bottas had completed a second flying lap, and the next came when Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel used new soft tyres to go quickest.

Hamilton’s second run on new softs yielded a 1m22.292s, enough to beat Vettel by 0.264s.

Charles Leclerc completed Ferrari’s rise from the foot of the top 10 to go third-fastest, 0.457s, but Mercedes appears to have its rival from Maranello at arm’s length heading into qualifying.

The only blip for Mercedes was Bottas’s failure to set a true time on his second set of new tyres.

He ran wide exiting the penultimate corner and got sideways after touching the grass, which limited him to a 1m23.422s – only good enough for seventh.

That, combined with a surprisingly muted session from Red Bull, allowed Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen take fourth and fifth in the times.

Grosjean was 0.820s slower than Mercedes, two tenths clear of Magnussen, who in turn was a few hundredths clear of Pierre Gasly in the lead Red Bull.

Daniil Kvyat set the eighth-fastest time in the Toro Rosso, indicating the Honda engine was not the reason Red Bull were towards the foot of the top 10 as Max Verstappen ended the session ninth.

Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 10, less than half a tenth clear of his Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg.

At the tail of the field, Williams remains detached from the midfield battle.

George Russell was the team’s quickest driver again, outpacing Robert Kubica by six tenths but lapping 3.6s off the pace and 1.4s behind McLaren’s Lando Norris in 18th.

Kubica slapped the pitwall when he ran wide entering the pitlane, scattering a small amount of debris.

He was also involved in a pitlane incident with Norris that saw McLaren fined €5000 for an unsafe release.

Session results

Cla # Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap
1 44 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 12 1'22.292  
2 5 Germany Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 12 1'22.556 0.264
3 16 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 12 1'22.749 0.457
4 8 France Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 17 1'23.112 0.820
5 20 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 15 1'23.334 1.042
6 10 France Pierre Gasly Red Bull Honda 17 1'23.367 1.075
7 77 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 17 1'23.422 1.130
8 26 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda 16 1'23.442 1.150
9 33 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda 19 1'23.481 1.189
10 3 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Renault Renault 14 1'23.695 1.403
11 27 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 15 1'23.737 1.445
12 99 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari 16 1'23.831 1.539
13 55 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren Renault 21 1'24.049 1.757
14 11 Mexico Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes 18 1'24.082 1.790
15 23 Thailand Alex Albon Toro Rosso Honda 15 1'24.328 2.036
16 18 Canada Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes 16 1'24.345 2.053
17 7 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari 18 1'24.402 2.110
18 4 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Renault 16 1'24.568 2.276
19 63 United Kingdom George Russell Williams Mercedes 14 1'25.944 3.652
20 88 Poland Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 16 1'26.589 4.297
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