Lewis Hamilton has posted the fastest time in the final practice session of the Australian Grand Prix ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Just 0.176 seconds separated the two Mercedes drivers, as both Hamilton and Rosberg ran the super soft tyre for the first time this year, having opted to not run the compound during pre-season testing.

FP3 saw the first session where the circuit was completely dry, which meant that drivers hurried out onto the circuit to make up for lost time on Friday.

For some the rush to get out was too intense, as Manor Racing’s Rio Haryanto ran into Romain Grosjean’s Haas while both were exiting their respective and adjacent pit garages. The incident left Grosjean in his garage for almost half of the one-hour session while the team worked on replacing the floor as a precaution.

Red Bull Racing focused on their qualifying simulations early on, running the super soft tyre while the rest of the field stayed on the slower soft compound, running presumably higher fuel loads some 2-3 seconds off the pace at minimum.

Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Daniil Kvyat traded places at the top of the table during their qualifying runs, but would have been a little disheartened to see Kimi Räikkönen’s Ferrari clear both of their times using the soft tyre, which is theoretically six-tenths of a second per lap slower.

The Australian bounced back and moved back to top spot by just over one-tenth of a second, albeit still on the super soft tyre.

Scuderia Toro Rosso enjoyed a trouble-free session for both drivers, with Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen both registering late laps on the super softs to finish the final practice session in fourth and sixth position respectively.

Despite reporting having big problems with his front tyres, Felipe Massa managed to keep his Williams in the top ten, although he was almost half a second down on his teammate Valtteri Bottas in seventh.

Both McLaren drivers were within a tenth of a second of being inside the top ten, with Fernando Alonso finishing in 11th while Jenson Button was a fraction behind in 12th.

The inaugural ‘knockout’ style qualifying session gets underway at 17:00 local time today (GMT +11).

Driver Team / Entry Result Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid 1:25.624 24
2. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid + 0.176 25
3. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H + 0.228 25
4. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 + 0.633 28
5. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H + 0.811 23
6. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 + 1.077 26
7. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 + 1.106 28
8. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12 + 1.144 22
9. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 + 1.527 28
10. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 + 1.618 22
11. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MP4-31 + 1.639 20
12. Jenson Button McLaren-Honda MP4-31 + 1.717 20
13. Daniil Kvyat ru Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12 + 1.806 22
14. Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 + 2.035 26
15. Kevin Magnussen dk Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 + 2.247 24
16. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 + 2.364 22
17. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 + 2.493 24
18. Esteban Gutiérrez Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16 + 2.660 21
19. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16 + 2.668 11
20. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 + 2.669 26
21. Pascal Wehrlein de Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 + 3.422 18
22. Rio Haryanto id Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 + 3.648 23

George Hitchens Photography

Image via George Hitchens Photography

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Josh Kruse

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