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F1 Australian GP: Verstappen leads Alonso in final practice

Red Bull's Max Verstappen edged Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso in Saturday's third free practice session for Formula 1's Australian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

After Friday's rain-affected FP2, Saturday's final practice session predominantly took place on a dry Albert Park circuit despite the threatening Melbourne clouds, although a morning drizzle had further washed away the rubber that had been built up over the weekend.

Due to the Friday disruptions, most teams wasted little time taking to the track to get both their high fuel and qualifying runs in.

World champion Verstappen opened his account with a 1m19.664s on medium tyres and after briefly being deposed by Ferrari man Carlos Sainz's soft-tyre effort, the Dutchman reclaimed his early P1 with a 1m18.741s.

Verstappen's time, the only medium lap from the frontrunners, was soon bested by the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque went top with a 1m18.731s on softs, which he then filed down to a 1m.18.691s.

The second Red Bull of Sergio Perez remained in the garage for the opening stages as the Mexican's mechanics worked on the rear of his RB19. Following Friday's messy sessions the loss of track time was even more costly for Perez than usual.

After the 15-minute mark times took another tumble with Fernando Alonso setting a 1m18.329s in his soft-shod Aston Martin, which was instantly improved upon with a 1m18.127s fired in by Sainz.

Fortunately for Perez, his mechanical issue was resolved so he could join the session after 20 minutes, but he fumed as he was nearly put into the wall on his first push lap by the cruising Haas of Nico Hulkenberg.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The session was briefly red-flagged just past the halfway mark for a large piece of debris from Nyck De Vries's AlphaTauri sidepod, which landed near the racing line near the fast Turn 9 kink, but after three minutes the action continued uninterrupted until the chequered flag.

The rapidly improving track conditions led to a barrage of fast times in the final 10 minutes, before a drizzle near Turn 1 intensified and caused the likes of Perez and Leclerc to run wide.

Alonso briefly grabbed top with a 1m17.727s, only for the following car of Verstappen to demote him with a 1m17.565s.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon also utilised the improved track conditions to move up the order, taking third 0.373s behind Verstappen and 0.017s ahead of Mercedes man George Russell.

The second Alpine of Pierre Gasly was fifth, followed by Perez, who saw two of his hotlaps ruined by locking up under braking and taking to the run-off.

Sainz and Lewis Hamilton, who was blocked on his final flyer, followed in seventh and eighth, while Aston's Lance Stroll and Zhou rounded out the top 10.

Hulkenberg was 11th for Haas ahead of Williams man Alex Albon and Leclerc, who didn't get a final lap in.

Local favourite Oscar Piastri was 14th for McLaren, following by the second Alfa of Valtteri Bottas and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda.

Logan Sargeant and Kevin Magnussen were next up, with De Vries and Lando Norris propping up the timesheets.

Norris only ran 12 laps, sitting out the last part of the session with a clutch issue on his McLaren.

Full Australian GP FP3 results:

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull 1'17.565  
2 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 1'17.727 0.162
3 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1'17.938 0.373
4 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 1'17.955 0.390
5 France Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 1'18.094 0.529
6 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 1'18.123 0.558
7 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 1'18.127 0.562
8 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 1'18.138 0.573
9 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 1'18.198 0.633
10 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'18.330 0.765
11 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 1'18.410 0.845
12 Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes 1'18.553 0.988
13 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 1'18.691 1.126
14 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 1'18.713 1.148
15 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'18.809 1.244
16 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 1'18.901 1.336
17 United States Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 1'18.947 1.382
18 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1'19.056 1.491
19 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull 1'19.092 1.527
20 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1'19.146 1.581

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