Free Practice 3
On another cool and overcast day at Melbourne, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel topped the third practice session.
The reigning World Champion set a quickest lap of 1:24.507, some eight-tenths faster than teammate Mark Webber.
It was a stunning display by Vettel, who was quickest in every single sector as he laid down his marker for the weekend.
The McLaren pair of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button lined up 3rd and 4th respectively, albeit one second off of Vettel’s pace, although Button spent the early part of the practice struggling with brake issues.
Renault’s Vitaly Petrov finished 5th and Fernando Alonso 6th in his Ferrari; both had several tenths advantage over Kamui Kobayashi (7th, Sauber) and Nico Rosberg (8th, Mercedes), while Nick Heidfeld (Renault) and Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) rounded out the top-ten.
The second Ferrari of Felipe Massa had a problematic session in a car the Brazilian appears to find difficult. Nearing the end of the session, the camera casing from Massa’s car flew off, while his qualifying simulation was ruined by a painfully slow Narain Karthikeyan – all of which left Massa 2.5 seconds off of Vettel’s ultimate pace.
Williams also had a third practice to forget. Rubens Barrichello’s (16th) session ended early thanks to gearbox oil leak, but not before rookie teammate Pastor Maldonado beached his FW33 into the gravel trap at the turn 6/7 chicane.
At Virgin, an error from a Cosworth engineer necessitated an engine change in Timo Glock’s car – the German driver completed the session in 20th, four-tenths ahead of new teammate Jerome d’Ambrosio.
Meanwhile, the struggling Hispania squad had another poor day with Vitantonio Liuzzi’s F111 stopping after four corners due to an electrical fault. Narain Karthikeyan did eventually set a timed lap in the second Hispania, albeit 17.047 seconds off the pace.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m24.507s 15 2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.364s + 0.857 14 3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.553s + 1.046 15 4. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.567s + 1.060 16 5. Petrov Renault 1m25.906s + 1.399 18 6. Alonso Ferrari 1m26.121s + 1.614 16 7. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.417s + 1.910 17 8. Rosberg Mercedes 1m26.520s + 2.013 17 9. Heidfeld Renault 1m26.746s + 2.239 17 10. Schumacher Mercedes 1m26.856s + 2.349 15 11. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.008s + 2.501 17 12. Massa Ferrari 1m27.011s + 2.504 15 13. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.066s + 2.559 14 14. di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m27.087s + 2.580 15 15. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m27.180s + 2.673 15 16. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m28.068s + 3.561 7 17. Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.077s + 3.570 9 18. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m29.772s + 5.265 17 19. Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m30.003s + 5.496 18 20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m30.261s + 5.754 15 21. Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m30.496s + 5.989 5 22. D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m30.704s + 6.197 18 23. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m41.554s + 17.047 5 24. Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth No time 1