Sebastian Vettel led Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen to a 1-2 result in a wet-dry final practice session at the Australian Grand Prix.
The result came thanks to the pair bolting on a set of Ultra Soft tyres to leap to the top of the timesheets in the final minutes of the one-hour session which was largely impacted by heavy rain earlier in the day.
The rain had all but stopped by the time FP3 got underway and the lap times came down as conditions steadily improved. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was an initial pace-setter when the track was at its wettest. The Dutchman again returned near the top of the timesheets – barely five-hundredths of a second behind – when the Friday pace-setters Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas went quickest midway through the session, albeit in reverse order to Friday’s results.
Chasing that trio was McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and the two Toro Rosso Hondas of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, who appeared comfortable on the slippery track.
Alonso’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne popped into the top-three, prompting the Spaniard to attempt another run on the Intermediate tyres. After posting fastest sector times, the Spaniard was suddenly called into the pits and abandoned his lap. The team later tried to send him out for one final flying lap, but left his pit exit too late which meant he found the chequered flag before he could have another timed lap. The two-time World Champion vented his frustration over the pit-to-car radio, saying to the team: “I don’t know what we are doing!”
Carlos Sainz Jr. put his Renault at the top of the timesheets in the final 10 minutes of the session only to be thrashed by two seconds thanks to another lap by Verstappen, but the hammer blow was dealt by Vettel.
Attempting a qualifying-style run on the dry-weather Ultra Soft tyres, the German blasted around the circuit and moved to the top of the order some 5.6 seconds quicker than the Dutchman’s lap. Teammate Räikkönen followed suit, but his lap was much more cautious and he finished second-quickest, but over two seconds slower than the German.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, the only other driver to run dry-weather tyres in the session, popped into third place thanks to his final flying lap.
Verstappen fell to fourth-fastest ahead of Sainz Jr., the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and the Mercedes pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Alonso was tenth-fastest while neither Force India ran beyond a single installation lap at the start of the session.
Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix – expected to take place on a completely dry track according to the latest weather forecasts – takes place at 17:00 local time (GMT +11).
|FORMULA 1 2018 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 3 TIMES|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||1:26.067||15|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||1:28.499||+ 2.432||13|
|3.||Marcus Ericsson||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||1:28.890||+ 2.823||14|
|4.||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14||1:31.680||+ 5.613||8|
|5.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||1:33.172||+ 7.105||11|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14||1:34.043||+ 7.976||14|
|7.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||1:34.174||+ 8.107||14|
|8.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||1:34.225||+ 8.158||7|
|9.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||1:34.233||+ 8.166||15|
|10.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||1:34.298||+ 8.231||13|
|11.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||1:34.990||+ 8.923||16|
|12.||Brendon Hartley||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||1:35.438||+ 9.371||16|
|13.||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||1:35.589||+ 9.522||16|
|14.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||1:35.828||+ 9.761||8|
|15.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||1:36.171||+ 10.104||6|
|16.||Charles Leclerc||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||1:36.448||+ 10.381||12|
|17.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||1:36.807||+ 10.740||7|
|18.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||1:38.482||+ 12.415||8|
|19.||Esteban Ocon||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||no time||1|
|20.||Sergio Pérez||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||no time||1|
Image via Ignite Image