Nico Rosberg’s run at the top ended by Lewis Hamilton in the final free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix.
Rosberg had already topped both Friday sessions, with Hamilton tucking in close behind. But as the qualifying preparation laps kicked in, Hamilton found the pace to get the better of his Mercedes team mate. By the time the chequered flag fell, Lewis was a second clear of Nico, with Vettel slotted in between.
For Rosberg, his weekend started with Hamilton just 0.029 seconds behind him in FP1 before going on to stretch that lead to one tenth of a second. Ferrari also spent some time on top in FP2, but Mercedes were too hot for them to handle.
Friday also proved to be a difficult day for Ricciardo and Red Bull, after the Aussie only managed to complete a handful of laps before an issue with the combustion engine kept the car in the garage. Ricciardo now finds himself with just three of his four combustion engines for the rest of the season.
But come today and the one hour of FP3, Ricciardo was back on track as Red Bull’s issues appeared to switch onto Kvyat. The Russian reported over the team’s radio that he could feel something wrong with his engine before going straight on at turn 15 when the engine continued to push under breaking.
Later on in the session, the gremlins appeared to have returned to Ricciardo’s car when he was forced to pull to the side of the track just after leaving the pits. Luckily for him, he received a push back into the pit lane and the team were able to collect him to begin work on the car. This time, his time in the garage was minimal.
Down at Sauber, with the legal case brought against them Giedo van der Garde now out the way for the weekend, the team once again sent their drivers out straight away to give them a clear track. But their best times could only sit in P1 for a few minutes before they found themselves slipping down the order.
As for Mercedes, Rosberg initially took the top spot away from the field whilst Hamilton struggled to complete a clean lap that would challenge his team mate. But once the Brit hooked up a decent lap, he found himself two tenths ahead of Rosberg. By this stage, no flying laps had been posted on the soft compound tyres yet Mercedes were eight tenths clear of third place Valtteri Bottas.
This however, was not the case as the session entered the final 15 minutes with Rosberg bolting on the yellow branded Pirelli tyres. The option compound gave the German an instant boost to reclaim the top spot, but only by two tenths of a second.
It took Lewis a few more minutes before he carried out a flying lap on the soft tyres, but when he did Lewis leapt into the lead by almost a second. Lewis had been pushed down the order by the Ferrari’s in the build up to his flying lap. Another sign the Ferrari revival is going well so far.
As for McLaren, they remained lingering at the bottom of the time sheet across FP3. When the chequered flag fell, Magnussen and Button sat in a miserable 16th and 17th, sandwiched between the problematic Red Bull’s of Ricciardo and Kvyat, with the Marussia’s behind them after another session sat in the garage.
- Hamilton (1:27:867 11 laps)
- Nasr (24 laps completed – most)