The third and final free practice for the Australian Grand Prix took place in Melbourne, at the Albert Park circuit. The drivers and teams were able to prepare for qualifying, which will take place at 8am French time, and tomorrow’s race.
The FIA said: the removal of the fourth DRS zone, which was added on the brand new fast lake section in Albert Park. Thus, the configuration of the activation zones returns to what it used to be.
Lando Norris set a first benchmark in 1’21″247 on soft tyres. He was quickly beaten by Max Verstappen, who set a time of 1’21″178 on medium tyres. The Dutchman was soon beaten by his Red Bull teammate, Sergio Pérez, in 1’21’024 in medium.
Charles Leclerc placed his Ferrari at the top of the hierarchy, thanks to a time of 1’20″689 on soft rubber. The Scuderia were the most impressive team yesterday, but Red Bull seemed to be back at the highest level this Saturday morning.
George Russell only took fifth on soft tires while Pérez regained control in 1’20″436. Valtteri Bottas then positioned himself ahead of Leclerc on soft tires in 1’20″517.
Carlos Sainz then set the best time in 1’20″390, and Daniel Ricciardo seemed to understand his McLaren better by failing nine thousandths behind the Spaniard. Fernando Alonso got everyone in agreement and placed at the top of the timesheet in 1’20″119 .
Lewis Hamilton confirmed the difficulty in keeping his Mercedes W13 on track and went through the gravel traps, hitting the tire barrier very lightly. Shortly afterwards Sebastian Vettel lost control of his Aston Martin exiting Turn 10 and crashed into the TecPro barrier.
The front wing and left front axle of the German’s AMR22 were destroyed and Vettel, who did not race in EL2 after his engine failure in EL1, saw his free practice session come to an end after completing some 20 laps. The red flag was raised.
After more than ten minutes of interruption, the session resumed with 29 minutes on the clock. Many drivers were waiting outside the pits when the light turned green.
Bottas set the fourth fastest time, but missed his last sector after beating the first two. Norris took third, but it was mainly Alonso who improved his best time in 1’19″906, while Leclerc had returned to a thousandth of a second behind the Spanish driver.
Verstappen seemed wary of his spin and explained he couldn’t “feel the balance” of the RB18 for the time being. Pérez put the other Red Bull at the top of the hierarchy in 1’19″720.
But Alonso didn’t give up and immediately regained control in 1’19.660. Russell improved his time after a minor off-track on the previous lap, but the Mercedes F1 driver was far from the best in 11th place.
Leclerc took second place 43 thousandths behind Alonso and Pérez set the best time in 1’19.458. The track improved and Verstappen took fourth in 1’19.809, the only one with medium tyres.
Hamilton took eighth with the absolute best time in the first sector. The Mercedes W13 seemed to suffer in the fast sections, still plagued by hard-to-control porpoises.
Russell eventually put in a smooth lap and positioned himself fifth, while Sainz took the lead in 1’19″419. Pierre Gasly, discreet since the start of the weekend, remained 13th just behind Esteban Ocon.
Ten minutes before the end of the session, the McLaren drivers moved up the hierarchy. Ricciardo took fourth before Norris clocked an impressive 1m19.117s on a mixed track. The Woking team looked to be getting better with their MCL36.
Verstappen eventually put on the soft tires but broke off his first fast lap and Alonso made progress in the hierarchy moving up to second, 0″158 off Norris’ best time. This end of EL3 was a mystery as to the forces who attended this Australian GP.
Verstappen aborted his second fast lap on soft tires in the first corner, after a mistake caused by oversteer. Sainz, for his part, made a mistake at Turn 10 of the Albert Park circuit.
The session took a catastrophic turn for Aston Martin F1 with an accident for Lance Stroll, who was about to hit the wall and also ripped the right front suspension off his AMR22.
Norris therefore finished this EL3 ahead of Leclerc, who improved five minutes before the end of the session. Pérez is third ahead of Alonso, Sainz, Ricciardo and Verstappen, who therefore did not drive a fast lap on soft tires.
Hamilton is eighth ahead of Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda and Russell. Gasly and Ocon follow ahead of Mick Schumacher and Guanyu Zhou. Alex Albon is 16th ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi, with 18th less than two seconds behind Norris. Stroll is 19th for Vettel, a dire situation for Aston Martin.
|01||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL36||1:19.117||12|
|02||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari F1-75||1:19.249||15|
|03||Sergio Perez||Red Bull RBPT RB18||1:19.265||17|
|04||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault A522||1:19.275||15|
|05||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari F1-75||1:19.419||17|
|06||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes MCL36||1:19.693||14|
|07||Max Verstappen||Red Bull RBPT RB18||1:19.809||16|
|08||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W13||1:19.896||13|
|09||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42||1:20.08||17|
|10||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri RBPT AT03||1:20.074||12|
|11||george russell||Mercedes W13||1:20.096||16|
|12||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri RBPT AT03||1:20.133||14|
|13||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A522||1:20.205||14|
|14||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari VF-22||1:20.692||17|
|15||Guanyu-Zhou||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42||1:20.836||16|
|16||Alex Albon||Williams Mercedes FW44||1:20.958||16|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-22||1:21.025||14|
|18||Nicholas Latific||Williams Mercedes FW44||1:21.050||14|
|19||Lance Walk||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22||1:21.636||11|
|20||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22||†||5|