FP3: Vettel hits the front with late slick run

Sebastian Vettel made the most of a drying Albert Park circuit and the improving track conditions to take the final practice ahead of qualifying in Melbourne.

Despite concerns of chaos, Saturday’s final practice for the Australian Grand Prix went ahead without any hiccups after heavy rain earlier in the day.

The rain lessened in the hour prior to practice, meaning a quick sweep of some standing water and FP3 was green-lighted on time.

As expected it was a slow start to the day with Nico Hulkenberg the only driver to set a time in the opening 20 minutes – a 1:40.8 for the Renault driver on the intermediate tyres.

The times quickly began to drop with race control enabling DRS midway through practice.

Max Verstappen was leading at the 30-minute mark with a 1:35.548, 0.4s up on Daniel Ricciardo, while Lewis Hamilton had yet to put in a single lap.

As the track continued to dry out, the lap times tumbled with Valtteri Bottas sitting on top with a 1:34.174 before Carlos Sainz lowered the benchmark to a 1:33.172.

The final five minutes of FP3 saw a few drivers swap to the slick tyres with Sebastian Vettel finishing P1 with a 1:26.067.

That put him 2.4s up on Kimi Raikkonen while Marcus Ericsson was third. All three used ultras.

Verstappen was fastest of the intermediate runners ahead of Sainz, the penalised Ricciardo, Bottas and Hamilton.

Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10.

Lance Stroll missed the start of FP3 with a gearbox issue that Williams only detected late in the morning. As such he covered just eight laps on his way to 14th place.

Australian Grand Prix FP3 Times
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:26.067
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:28.499 2.432
3 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:28.890 2.823
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:31.680 5.613
5 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:33.172 7.105
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:34.043 7.976
7 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34.174 8.107
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.225 8.158
9 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:34.233 8.166
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:34.298 8.231
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:34.990 8.923
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:35.438 9.371
13 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:35.589 9.522
14 Lance Stroll Williams 1:35.828 9.761
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:36.171 10.104
16 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:36.448 10.381
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:36.807 10.740
18 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:38.482 12.415
19 Esteban Ocon Force India
20 Sergio Perez Force India

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