F1 Australian GP FP3 | Leclerc fastest as 0.092s covers the top 4

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari
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The first driver to post a time in final practice was Sergio Perez, with the Mexican logging a 1:19.206. Verstappen responded to that quickly as he beat it by 0.615s. Both drivers were on mediums.

Perez went again and smashed in a 1:17.927 to go 0.664s ahead of the Dutchman thanks to three purple sectors.

Once again Verstappen fought back, putting 0.417s into his teammate as Red Bull got their brakes and tyres into the operating window.

After 15 minutes, only Verstappen (1:17.100), Perez (0.050s) and Sainz (1.344s) had set a proper time. 20 minutes in, Verstappen led Perez, Sainz, Leclerc, Albon and Hamilton. Seconds later, Sainz smashed in a 1:16.791 to put 0.309s between himself and Verstappen.

On another attempt, Leclerc was improving but had a big snap on the exit of turn 13 and lost a bundle of time. The Monegasque eventually improved, slotting into P2. He was 0.296s slower than his Spanish teammate. However, his final sector was compromised in the last two corners by a slow moving Aston Martin on a preparation lap.

At the halfway point, Sainz led Leclerc, Verstappen, Perez, Hamilton, Stroll, Alonso, Piastri, Magnussen and Hülkenberg. The top 4 set their best times on mediums at that point.

Home hero Oscar Piastri managed to get himself in between the Ferraris and Red Bulls, going P3 on softs and setting the exact same time as Charles Leclerc. Mercedes finally started to unleash some speed, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell moving themselves into P2 and P3 respectively. Hamilton was only 0.015s slower than Sainz, with his teammate 0.216s slower than him. Leclerc put a lap together to go P3, less than half a tenth behind his teammate.

As the chequered flag fell, a 1:16.714 from Charles Leclerc put the Monegasque on top of the timesheets. Verstappen had beaten Sainz’s long-standing benchmark seconds beforehand, but the three-time reigning World Champion had to settle for P2 as he was 0.020s away.

0.092s covered Leclerc, Verstappen, Sainz and Hamilton. Russell, Alonso, Perez and Piastri were all within 0.4s of the quickest time, with Lando Norris rounding out the top 10.

Tsunoda, Bottas, Albon, Guanyu, Ocon, Hülkenberg, Magnussen, Ricciardo and Gasly rounded out the order. 1.676s covered the field.