Australian GP: Lewis Hamilton fastest in final free practice

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the final free practice session ahead of qualifying for the opening race of the Formula 1 season in Australia

Australian GP: Lewis Hamilton fastest in final free practice

With most drivers completing qualifying simulation runs in the final 10 minutes of the session, this was the first time that there was a chance to compare the raw speed of the 2015 cars.

The world champion had set the pace during the first part of the session, when drivers were running on the slower medium-compound Pirellis, over two tenths faster than team-mate Rosberg.

But with Rosberg only able to find a half-second improvement when he switched onto the quicker soft rubber in the closing stages of the session, the way was clear for Hamilton to secure top spot.

Hamilton's first flier on the softs was good enough to take P1 by 0.696s ahead of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, with Rosberg's qualifying simulation run only good enough for third overall.

On his second quick lap of the run, Hamilton set the best time of the session in both the first and second sectors before aborting his run and heading to the pits.

Williams pairing Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were fourth and fifth fastest, with Kimi Raikkonen in sixth, only three-hundredths off the Brazilian.

Lotus, now with Mercedes power, continued to show top-10 form, with Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado seventh and eighth.

Carlos Sainz was ninth fastest despite a trip through the gravel while on his qualifying run late in the session, with Toro Rosso team-mate MaxVerstappen 11th.

They sandwiched Sauber driver Felipe Nasr, with the second Swiss machine of Marcus Ericsson 12th after the Swede survived a high-speed spin at the exit of Turn 12.

Force India, still lacking in experience of its 2015 car, ended the session 13th and 14th with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez both anticipating a difficult weekend.

Red Bull had a dire session, with Daniel Ricciardo completing only 10 laps on top of the nine he managed yesterday thanks to an engine failure.

Ricciardo was 15th fastest, 3.318s off the pace, with his session being interrupted by stopping on track close to the pit exit before being recovered by marshals and returning to action shortly after.

His team-mate, Daniil Kvyat, also had a troubled session, managing only six laps, leaving him down in 18th behind the struggling McLaren-Hondas of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button.

With Manor still battling to get its cars up and running, both Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were again unable to run.

FREE PRACTICE 3 RESULTS

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m27.867s - 11
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m28.563s 0.696s 13
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.821s 0.954s 14
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m28.912s 1.045s 14
5 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m28.988s 1.121s 18
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m29.017s 1.150s 13
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m29.481s 1.614s 12
8 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m29.864s 1.997s 15
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m29.869s 2.002s 19
10 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m29.934s 2.067s 24
11 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m29.952s 2.085s 16
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m30.613s 2.746s 21
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m30.741s 2.874s 14
14 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m30.993s 3.126s 17
15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m31.185s 3.318s 10
16 Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Honda 1m31.391s 3.524s 14
17 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m31.666s 3.799s 13
18 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1m32.830s 4.963s 6

Manor drivers did not complete a lap

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