Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time for the 3rd Free Practice session for the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Qualifying this afternoon.
Vettel’s time of 1:23.380 was the fastest lap of the session and is now the fastest time around the Albert Park Circuit. His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen finished 4th fastest after a puncture curtailed his run. Interestingly enough, Ferrari only ran the ultra soft tyre the entire session.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas finished 2nd fastest ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Bottas set a 1:23.859 which was 0.479s off Vettel’s time with Hamilton a further 0.490s off.
In 5th was Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who produced a very quick lap on the ultra softs to cross the line in 1:25.063. This pace is encouraging for the Enstone team, but Jolyon Palmer in the second Renault could only manage 19th fastest after some issues with his car.
In a rather quiet session for Red Bull Daniel Ricciardo set the 6th fastest time that was 1.712s slower than Vettel’s time. Red Bull seem to be struggling with the car setup and balance with Max Verstappen complaining that there was mid corner under-steer. Verstappen finished his session 12th fastest.
The two Toro Rosso’s of Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat finished 8th and 9th respectively sandwiched by the two Haas drivers of Romain Grosjean in 7th and Kevin Magnussen in 10th.
The session ended early after William’s Lance Stroll tagged the barrier at the exit of Turn 10. Stroll running a bit wide into T10, took a little too much kerb. He got on the power a little too early and the rear stepped out and smacked the barrier damaging the rear right suspension.
There were incidents throughout the session with McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne taking a trip through the gravel and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen coming to a stop at T14 after a puncture. The Finn switched off his Ferrari and restarted it using the MGU-K. He limped back to the pits with a clearly deflating rear left tyre.
The scene is set for qualifying. Ferrari have shown some pace while Mercedes have had a couple bags of sand in their cars and will undoubtedly turn up the engine to eleven for Qualifying. We’ll finally know if Mercedes are the team to beat this year.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 25, 2017
Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Formula One