Vettel seizes the advantage in FP3

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Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the final free practice session at Melbourne, lapping an impressive half a second faster than either Mercedes and putting an alert up for qualifying later today. The German's 1:23.380s was also faster than his own pole record from 2013.

As Vettel hit the sweet spot with hit Ferrari, he sat out the final 20 minutes of the session to see others were unable - or not intending - to beat his team. Even when Mercedes switched to the ultrasoft tyres, they were not a match to Vettel's pace.

Nico Hulkenberg meanwhile beat Daniel Ricciardo to 5th, a surprise performance for Renault, who are still working on their comeback after their troubled 2016 season.

Romain Grosjean did well in 7th, despite clearly continuing to struggle with his car's brakes. His team mate at Haas, Kevin Magnussen positioned an equally respectable 10th, sandwishing both Toro Rosso drivers in 8th and 9th.

Further hopes for improvements were denied when Lance Stroll caught the wall, bringing out the red flags for the remained of the session. Williams confirmed later they were changing the gearbox on Stroll's Williams FW40 ahead of qualifying.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
15Sebastian VettelFerrari1:23.380-12
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:23.859+0.479s12
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:23.870+0.490s12
47Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:23.988+0.608s10
527Nico HulkenbergRenault1:25.063+1.683s10
63Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:25.092+1.712s15
78Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:25.581+2.201s11
855Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:25.948+2.568s11
926Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1:26.049+2.669s11
1020Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:26.138+2.758s11
1119Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:26.237+2.857s15
1233Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:26.269+2.889s7
1311Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:26.457+3.077s12
1414Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:26.556+3.176s7
152Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:26.699+3.319s9
1631Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:27.103+3.723s16
1718Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:27.327+3.947s12
189Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:27.402+4.022s10
1930Jolyon PalmerRenault1:28.320+4.940s12
2036Antonio GiovinazziSauber Ferrari1:28.583+5.203s18