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2016 Australian GP: Hamilton fastest in 3rd practice

2016-03-19 07:12

FASTEST IN MELBOURNE: Mercedes'Lewis Hamilton is quickest during the third and final practice session at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix. Image: AP / Rob Griffith

Melbourne - Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg set a one-two finish in final practice ahead of qualifying for the season-opening 2016 Australian Grand Prix.

In sizzling times on supersoft tyres on a dry track following morning rain, world champion Hamilton topped the charts for a third straight practice session in one minute 25.624 seconds.

His fastest lap was 0.7secs quicker than his pole time at the 2015 Melbourne race, which he won.

Vettel giving chase

Rosberg was second quickest in 1min25.800 and encouragingly for title rivals Ferrari, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel finished 1min25.852, some 0.228secs behind Hamilton's time.

Mercedes are well placed for the qualifying later Saturday where the new format will see drivers eliminated one by one.

The German team has ruled F1 for two years, winning 32 of the 38 races.

Rosberg had early problems when he overran Turn 13 and had to reverse onto the track in another mishap after hitting a wall in Friday's second practice.

The Ferraris were having a better time with Kimi Raikkonen hitting the top ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Vettel midway through the session.

As it happened: 2016 Oz GP: 3rd practice

Rosberg, who switched to soft tyres on his Mercedes in the drying track conditions, swept to the top with 1min26.149 with 20 minutes left in the session.

Vettel reclaimed the top time on his 16th lap in 1min25.852 in a dramatic improvement of his fortunes from Friday's practice.

The German's time was a half-second faster than the 2015 race pole time, although on supersoft tyres, but also indicating the improvement in Ferrari heading into the first race of the season.

Hamilton put in a hot 21st lap to sweep to the top of the charts with a best time of 1:25.624 ahead of Rosberg and the Ferrari pair, Vettel and Raikkonen.

Indonesian rookie Rio Haryanto had problems even before hitting the track when he collided with the Haas driver Romain Grosjean in the pit lane.

The two cars were forced back into the garage for repairs.

Grosjean's car was kept in his garage for half the session before he emerged and finished 19th, while Haryanto was in 22nd and last spot, some 3.648secs down on Hamilton's leading time.


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