Vettel tops final F1 practice in Melbourne

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel

Showing the form in preseason testing that gave everyone hope that Ferrari could this year challenge the Mercedes team, Sebastian Vettel put his Ferrari on top in the red-flagged shortened final practice session Saturday morning ahead of qualifying for the Australian GP in Melbourne.

Vettel's lap of 1m23.380s was 1/2-sec. faster than Valtteri Bottas in 2nd for Mercedes ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton in third. Because of the red flag when Lance Stroll hit the wall in his Williams, we do not know if either Mercedes driver could have beat Vettel's time, but it's doubtful given both had done a qualifying simulation run on the ultra-soft Pirellis and failed.

Hulkenberg 5th for Renault
Hulkenberg 5th for Renault

The Germans lap of 1m 23.380s was the quickest lap ever in Australia – breaking his own pole lap from 2013 – and then watched on as neither Valtteri Bottas nor Lewis Hamilton could get within 0.4s of the benchmark.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in the second Ferrari, a couple of tenths back, after a puncture disrupted his runs on the ultrasoft tire.

Nico Hulkenberg put in a strong performance to claim fifth for Renault, narrowly edging out Red Bull's local hero Daniel Ricciardo.

Practice 3 Results

POS NO DRIVER CAR/ENGINE TIME GAP LAPS
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari/Ferrari 1:23.380 +0.000s 12
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes/Mercedes 1:23.859 +0.479s 12
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes/Mercedes 1:23.870 +0.490s 12
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari/Ferrari 1:23.988 +0.608s 10
5 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault/Renault 1:25.063 +1.683s 10
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/TAG Heuer 1:25.092 +1.712s 15
7 8 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1:25.581 +2.201s 11
8 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1:25.948 +2.568s 11
9 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1:26.049 +2.669s 11
10 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:26.138 +2.758s 11
11 19 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1:26.237 +2.857s 15
12 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull/TAG Heuer 1:26.269 +2.889s 7
13 11 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1:26.457 +3.077s 12
14 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1:26.556 +3.176s 7
15 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 1:26.699 +3.319s 9
16 31 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1:27.103 +3.723s 16
17 18 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1:27.327 +3.947s 12
18 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1:27.402 +4.022s 10
19 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault/Renault 1:28.320 +4.940s 12
20 36 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber/Ferrari 1:28.583 +5.203s 18

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