McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton jumped to the top of the final free practice standings this morning, thanks to late effort at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.
The 2008 World Champion knocked Lotus’ Romain Grosjean off the top spot, as the session drew to a close.
Mark Webber secured 3rd spot in his Red Bull RB8, just ahead of Jenson Button (McLaren) – both of whom fell some two-tenths shy of Hamilton.
It was a busy 60-minute session as the teams looked to regain ground lost following Friday’s changeable conditions, with a number of drivers crack the 20-lap barrier.
Both Mercedes pilots endured early off-track excursions, although Michael Schumacher cemented his mark in the session by burying his F1 W03 in the turn nine gravel trap five minutes before the chequered flag.
Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel did the same several minutes earlier in turn six, as he beached his Red Bull in the stones.
Both Bruno Senna (Williams) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari) spun harmlessly toward the end of the lap. The Brazilians lost little running time, but may have suffered some little embarrassment for their woes.
At the back, Pedro de la Rosa continued to complain about a loss of power steering, as his HRT fell foul to further hydraulic problems.
2012 Australian Grand Prix (Round 1, Free Practice 3) Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.681s 18 2. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.758s + 0.077 21 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.900s + 0.219 20 4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.906s + 0.225 17 5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.929s + 0.248 23 6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m26.078s + 0.397 14 7. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m26.211s + 0.530 12 8. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m26.470s + 0.789 17 9. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.632s + 0.951 20 10. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.723s + 1.042 17 11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.733s + 1.052 15 12. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m26.737s + 1.056 19 13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.755s + 1.074 21 14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m27.029s + 1.348 23 15. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m27.119s + 1.438 20 16. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m27.323s + 1.642 19 17. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m27.428s + 1.747 22 18. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m28.023s + 2.342 19 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m28.341s + 2.660 19 20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m28.702s + 3.021 11 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.728s + 5.047 13 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m31.225s + 5.544 14 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m33.114s + 7.433 12 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m33.261s + 7.580 13