Australian GP, Practice Three: Lewis Hamilton completes hat-trick
Hamilton fastest again but faces renewed challenge from Ferrari; Bottas and Red Bull off the pace; Watch Australian GP qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 6am build-up from 5am.
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 16/03/19 7:08am
Lewis Hamilton will go into F1 2019's first battle for pole position on the back of a hat-trick of fastest times after edging out Sebastian Vettel in Australian GP final practice.
Hamilton set the fastest time of the weekend, a 1:22.292, to outpace Vettel by two tenths of a second as Mercedes maintained their superiority in Melbourne.
But Ferrari were still much closer to their rivals than they were at the close of Friday, and it hints at an intriguing and closely-fought qualifying - which is live at 6am on Sky Sports F1.
Charles Leclerc was third in the sister Ferrari but 0.457s off Hamilton's time, while Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas struggled on his qualifying sim and finished over a second off the pace in seventh.
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Red Bull remain an anomaly with their Honda engines: Pierre Gasly was their lead car in Practice Three in sixth, with team-mate Max Verstappen in ninth.
That allowed Haas to sneak into the top positions, with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen an impressive fourth and fifth.
Grosjean was within a second of Hamilton's benchmark for the US team, who suddenly appear to be leading the midfield battle to make Q3.
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Daniil Kvyat also made the top-10 as Toro Rosso's strong start to the season continued, as did Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian outpaced Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg for the first time this weekend.
Alfa Romeo struggled in P3 compared to Friday's exploits and were neck-and-neck with McLaren and Racing Point, but Williams continue to look like distant backmarkers.
George Russell and Robert Kubica, who hit the wall when entering the pits, were more than three seconds behind Hamilton's benchmark, and still a second off their nearest midfield rival.
It will be a miracle if they make it out of the first portion of qualifying.
Australian GP Practice Three Timesheet
|1) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:22.292|
|2) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1:22.556|
|3) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1:22.749|
|4) Romain Grosjean||Haas||1:23.112|
|5) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1:23.334|
|6) Pierre Gasly||Red Bull||1:23.367|
|7) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1:23.422|
|8) Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:23.442|
|9) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:23.481|
|10) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||1:23.695|
|11) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||1:23.737|
|12) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:23.831|
|13) Carlos Sainz||McLaren||1:24.049|
|14) Sergio Perez||Racing Point||1:24.082|
|15) Alex Albon||Toro Rosso||1:24.328|
|16) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1:24.345|
|17) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:24.402|
|18) Lando Norris||McLaren||1:24.568|
|19) George Russell||Williams||1:25.944|
|20) Robert Kubica||Williams||1:26.589|
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