Lewis Hamilton dominates final F1 practice session in Melbourne

Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg almost a second slower in last running before qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton set a scorching pace in the final free practice session on Saturday morning ahead of Australian Grand Prix qualifying in Melbourne.

Hamilton set the pace on 1:27.867 around Albert Park, seven tenths of a second faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Rosberg was only third quickest on 1:28.821.

Rosberg had set the early pace on the medium tyre running, with a 1:29.364, but Hamilton toppled him with a 1:29.128 – despite a couple of grassy excursions at Turn 9.

Rosberg was the first of the frontrunners to try the soft tyres this weekend, setting 1:28.939 at first, later improving to 28.821.

Then Hamilton pinged in his 1:27.867 best with five minutes to go, with Vettel posting 1:28.563 soon after to go second fastest, pushing Rosberg back to third.

Hamilton’s second lap was faster in the first two sectors, but he aborted that lap – so he could go even quicker this afternoon.

Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were fourth and fifth, ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. Lotus twins Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were next up, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr (Toro Rosso), Felipe Nasr (Sauber) and Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso).

Red Bull in the wars

It was a disastrous session for Red Bull. First, newboy Daniil Kvyat locked up and went straight on at Turn 15 early on due to an engine software issue that accelerated the car under braking. “The Renault guys are looking at that one,” sighed team principal Christian Horner from the pitwall.

Kvyat ended the session 18th on 1:32.830 and his session was curtailed 10 minutes early due to an engine fire.

Things were little better with local hero Daniel Ricciardo, 15th on 1:31.185, who complained: “Really bad driveability” from his engine in his early laps. He was forced to stop after 28 minutes of the session, being fortunate to get pushed back by marshals from where he'd ground to a halt at the end of the pitlane.

Ricciardo rejoined 10 minutes later, but required his brakes bleeding which forced him to also end his session prematurely. 

Red Bull was the only team not to run the soft tyre in that session, but Ricciardo still outpaced the two tardy McLarens, which used the softs.

Others hit some trouble too

Elsewhere, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson spun exiting Turn 12 and did a good job to keep it out of the wall.

McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen (16th) and Force India’s Sergio Perez (14th) had near miss at final corner, which angered the Mexican, while Sainz ran through gravel.

The Manor machines again didn’t venture from the pit garage and look unlikely to run at any point this weekend.

Pos. Driver  Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.867   11
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:28.563 0.696 13
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:28.821 0.954 14
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:28.912 1.045 14
5 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:28.988 1.121 18
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:29.017 1.150 13
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes 1:29.481 1.614 12
8 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes 1:29.864 1.997 15
9 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Renault 1:29.869 2.002 19
10 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1:29.934 2.067 24
11 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Renault 1:29.952 2.085 16
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1:30.613 2.746 21
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:30.741 2.874 14
14 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:30.993 3.126 17
15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1:31.185 3.318 10
16 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Honda 1:31.391 3.524 14
17 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1:31.666 3.799 13
18 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-Renault 1:32.830 4.463 6
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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Australian GP
Track Albert Park Circuit
Drivers Jenson Button , Kimi Raikkonen , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Carlos Sainz , Nico Rosberg , Pastor Maldonado , Sebastian Vettel , Nico Hulkenberg , Sergio Perez , Romain Grosjean , Daniel Ricciardo , Marcus Ericsson , Valtteri Bottas , Felipe Nasr , Kevin Magnussen , Daniil Kvyat , Max Verstappen
Article type Practice report