Mark Webber gave the home crowd something to get excited about as he claimed top spot in the third and final free practice session ahead of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix
The Red Bull
Racing star posted the fastest time of the weekend so far - a 1min 24.719secs effort - as the field completed its preparations for the critical hour on Saturday afternoon, and enjoyed a couple of tenths over nearest rival, and championship leader, Fernando Alonso. The top ten runners, rounded out by Force India's Tonio Liuzzi all ducked under Lewis Hamilton's Friday best, with only Renault's Robert Kubica
missing from the expected frontrunners.
Michael Schumacher showed the first real sign of his, and Mercedes', potential by claiming third spot having topped the charts for a brief while. Fellow German Sebastian Vettel, Bahrain polesitter and Webber's RBR team-mate, was fourth fastest, with another Teuton, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, rounding out the top five after again being out-paced by his more illustrious team-mate.
After topping the times on Friday, McLaren
had to make do with sixth and seventh positions, with Jenson Button
edging Hamilton after the 2008 champion opted to end his session in the garage. Force India
put both its drivers into the top ten, with Adrian Sutil
defying the loss of 90 minutes prep on Friday - when his car was seconded to reserve driver Paul di Resta - to claim eighth place, ahead of Ferrari's tyre heat afflicted Felipe Massa
and Force India
The two HRT entries were the only ones to hit real trouble in the hour, with both Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok stopping on track with mechanical problems, as Heikki Kovalainen
again claimed newcomer honours for Lotus.
Traffic was again an issue, however, and looks likely to continue into the early part of qualifying, at least.