Lewis Hamilton extended his unbeaten run in practice at the 2019 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, continuing his dominance at the top of the time sheets in Saturday’s final practice session after going fastest in both sessions on Friday.
The Englishman didn’t appear on track until almost halfway through Saturday’s one-hour session, by which point most of the field had set preliminary ‘banker’ laps in preparation for the afternoon’s qualifying session.
After trading fastest times with his long-time rival Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, the Englishman popped to the top of the time sheets with a time of 1:22.292 to edge the German by just over a quarter of a second.
Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc was a further two-tenths of a second adrift to finish third-quickest, while the top-five had two surprise appearances in the form of the Haas duo of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. The pair’s final flying laps, posted late in the session, belied the American team’s midfield pace shown on Friday and suggested they could be a serious contender to make the top-ten in qualifying.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas ran close to the pace of the reigning five-time World Champion in their early runs, but the Finn had an untidy lap on his final qualifying-style run and finished seventh-fastest. He twice missed the apex at Turn 15 and dropped his right-hand wheels onto the grass exiting the left-hander, with only lightning-quick reflexes preventing him from spinning his Mercedes on both occasions.
Red Bull Racing’s appeared to slip backwards on pace, with Pierre Gasly (sixth) and Max Verstappen (ninth). The duo spent much of the session running on the Medium Pirelli compound tyres, suggesting they may attempt to run on the mid-rang compound in Q2 in the hope of being able to run a contra-strategy in Sunday’s race to offset their apparent pace disadvantage.
Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and crowd favourite Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) rounded out the top-ten, with the latter’s teammate Nico Hülkenberg hot on his heels in eleventh on the time sheets.
Having shown impressive pace in both Friday sessions, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen was an unrepresentative 18th-fastest after encountering traffic on his qualifying-style lap.
The two Williams’ of George Russell and Robert Kubica rounded out the field and were once again well off the pace. Kubica had a relatively dramatic session, narrowly avoiding a collision with McLaren’s Lando Norris when the youngster was released from his garage into his path as he was exiting the pits. Kubica had further dramas at pit entry, sliding wide and slapping the wall midway through the session which succeeded in dislodging bodywork from his FW42.
|FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX 2019 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 3|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:22.292||12|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:22.556||+ 0.264||12|
|3.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:22.749||+ 0.457||12|
|4.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:23.112||+ 0.820||37|
|5.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:23.334||+ 1.042||27|
|6.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:23.367||+ 1.075||17|
|7.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:23.422||+ 1.130||17|
|8.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:23.442||+ 1.150||16|
|9.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:23.481||+ 1.189||19|
|10.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:23.695||+ 1.403||14|
|11.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:23.737||+ 1.445||15|
|12.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:23.831||+ 1.539||16|
|13.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:24.049||+ 1.757||21|
|14.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:24.082||+ 1.790||18|
|15.||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:24.328||+ 2.036||15|
|16.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:24.345||+ 2.053||16|
|17.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:24.402||+ 2.110||18|
|18.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:24.568||+ 2.276||16|
|19.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:25.944||+ 3.652||14|
|20.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:26.589||+ 4.297||16|
Images via Ignite Image (© MotorsportM8)
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