Australian GP: Rosberg dominates final practice in Melbourne

Nico Rosberg was comfortably quickest for Mercedes in third practice for the 2014 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, eclipsing second-placed Jenson Button by 1.391s

Australian GP: Rosberg dominates final practice in Melbourne

The Mercedes W05 was clearly the fastest car on both of the available tyre compounds as both Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton led the times during early running on mediums.

Rosberg was the first to lap under 1m30s after swapping to softs, lowering the bar to 1m29.375s, and while Hamilton was fastest of all in the first sector in response, he lost time in the middle sector to end the session fourth quickest, 1.501s off Rosberg's best.

Australian GP driver quotes and data on FORIX

Even though there were spots of rain before the green flag and it was generally cloudier than yesterday, with a gusting wind, the top runners quickly got into the groove and began to improve their times.

Button reported a litany of imperfections in his McLaren's performance, from locking rear brakes to poor balance on corner entry and exit. But on soft tyres at the end he found enough speed to go second fastest overall, just over a tenth of a second quicker than Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard was the most assured of the Scuderia's drivers, lapping comfortably while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen ran off-track more than once as he struggled with his car's balance and finished the session 1.7s off the ultimate pace.

Daniel Ricciardo was quickest of the Red Bulls with 1m30.970s, accomplished on the soft tyres, but Sebastian Vettel was a full 2.880s off Rosberg's best and finished final practice complaining of a lack of acceleration.

Williams had a less positive session than yesterday, with Felipe Massa propping up the top 10 and Valtteri Bottas completing just two untimed laps before parking his FW36. He will incur a five-place grid penalty after the team confirmed it would have to change his car's gearbox.

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Those teams whose new cars are in a less mature state of development continued to struggle. Esteban Gutierrez returned to the Sauber garage after reporting a gearbox problem and sat out the remainder of the session.

Both Lotus and Marussia had to use one of their six permitted 'jokers' to break the curfew on garage working hours, but they, along with Caterham, at least ran more laps than yesterday.

Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m29.375s 15 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m30.766s +1.391s 20 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m30.876s +1.501s 11 4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m30.919s +1.544s 13 5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m30.970s +1.595s 13 6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m30.978s +1.603s 16 7. Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1m31.156s +1.781s 12 8. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m31.251s +1.876s 22 9. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m31.665s +2.290s 17 10. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m31.723s +2.348s 20 11. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m31.925s +2.550s 17 12. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m32.255s +2.880s 14 13. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m32.417s +3.042s 16 14. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m34.184s +4.809s 15 15. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m34.188s +4.813s 16 16. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m34.413s +5.038s 19 17. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m34.717s +5.342s 15 18. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1m34.754s +5.379s 15 19. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m36.159s +6.784s 21 20. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 2 21. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 2 22. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 4 
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Australian GP: Lotus and Marussia break curfew on Saturday morning

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