Australian GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report
Nico Rosberg ruled Free Practice 3. He set a time of 1:29.375 in his Mercedes. That was 1.3 seconds quicker than Jenson Button who ended up second in his McLaren.
Jean-Eric Vergne was the first out on the track in his Toro Rosso. And, unlike Friday, the Lotus and Caterham cars were up and running and their drivers managed to do installation laps.
The ambient temperature at the start of the session was 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Centigrade.) Rain clouds hung in the air between patches of sun. And rain was expected about 15 minutes into the 60 minute session.
8 minutes into the session, Sebastian Vettel did a practice start in his Red Bull. He had not done any of those in preseason testing.
9 minutes into the session, Esteban Gutierrez radioed the Sauber pit that his car had a gearbox problem and he did not think he could make it back. He coasted along but then the car picked up speed and he made it to the pits.
12 minutes into the session, all 22 drivers had completed at least one lap, and Daniel Kvyat (Toro Rosso) had the fastest time with a 1:33.079. Meanwhile Kevin Magnussen had slid off the track and continued at Turn 9 in his McLaren. His teammate Jenson Button then did the same thing at the same turn.
14 minutes into the session, Button turned a 1:32.604. A couple of minutes later Lewis Hamilton topped that with a 1:31.583 in his Mercedes. Then Hamilton's teammate Nico Rosberg beat that with a 1:31.583.
20 minutes into the session, sun bathed the track as the forecast rain stayed away. Felipe Massa now had his Williams up in third place.
23 minutes into the session, Romain Grosjean pitted with a misfiring engine in his Lotus. Hamilton had now improved to a 1:30.919.
Midway through FP3 the top six were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Massa, Vettel, Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull.)
With 27 minutes remaining in the session, Kimi Raikkonen went off the track and continued at Turn 8. He and Ferrari teammate Alonso had been having troubles with the brake by wire system.
Valtteri Bottas had changed to street clothes as the Williams team conducted major repairs to his car. He had completed only two laps.
With 20 minutes remaining in the session, Nico Hulkenberg, with soft Pirellis fitted to his Force India, moved into second place with a time of 1:30.978. Up until now the drivers had been using Pirelli's medium compound slicks.
With 16 minutes remaining in the session, Rosberg clocked a 1:29.375 on softs.
Grosjean went out in the Lotus and shouted over the radio that "nothing is solved" with his car, and he immediately pitted.
With 14 minutes remaining in the session, Button moved into second with a 1:30.766.
In the final 10 minutes most of the drivers tried a run or two on softs. Fernando Alonso moved his Ferrari up to third place.
With 7 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel headed out on the softs. He was 10th quickest at the time. It was a hairy lap and he did not improve.
With 4 minutes remaining in the session, the top six were: Rosberg, Button, Alonso, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel complained the drivability was horrible and that his car did not accelerate.
The top six at the end of FP3 were: Rosberg, Button, Alonso, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg.