Sebastian Vettel sets fastest ever Australian GP lap in Practice 3

Telegraph Sport
Sebastian Vettel ends the final Australian Grand Prix practice session ahead of the rest - AFP

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest lap ever at the Albert Park circuit in the last practice session before qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday, finishing almost a half-second clear of Mercedes teammates Valterri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel drove his Ferrari around the 5.303-kilometre (3.295-mile) Melbourne track in 1:23.380 seconds.

Bottas, in his first race since replacing retired world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, was second quickest in 1:23.859 and three-time world champion Hamilton was third in 1:23.870.

Vettel's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen was fractionally under 1:24 to post the fourth-quickest time - and was the only other driver to go under 1:25, despite stopping when he punctured his left rear tire early in the session.

Hamilton had the fastest times in the first two practice sessions of the Formula One season on Friday.

Australian GP Talking Points | David Coulthard

Michael Schumacher holds the mark for the fastest racing lap at Albert Park, recording 1:24.125 on the way to victory in 2004.

With expectations that the new mechanical and tire regulations will make the F1 cars significantly faster this year, Schumacher's record could fall. Vettel already has lowered the mark he set in 2011for the fastest lap at the circuit.

The last practice session ended under red flag after 18-year-old Canadian Lance Stroll went too wide and clipped the wall at turn 10, damaging his right rear wheel.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg pushed up into fifth, 1.683 seconds behind Vettel, and Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo was sixth.

Sauber's substitute driver Antonio Giovinazzi, who was put in the car when Pascal Wehrlein withdrew earlier Saturday because of a fitness issue, had the slowest lap in the last practice on his F1 debut and was more than five seconds behind Vettel.

Actress Nicole Kidman was at the Albert Park circuit and paid a visit to the Ferrari team after the last practice.

The teams had two hours to fine-tune before the first qualifying session of the season started at 5 p.m. local time (0600 GMT).

Hamilton won pole position here last year but finished second to then Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who went on to beat him for the world drivers' title and then retired.

While most were tipping Hamilton as favorite to win a third Australian GP title, the British driver had picked Ferrari as the favorite based on pre-season testing. 

 

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