for FP3 results
Nico Rosberg finished well clear of the field in the final practice session for the Australian Grand Prix as the Mercedes topped the times by over a second.
After being second quickest in FP2 behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg set a time of 1:29.375 on his soft tyre run, leaving him 1.4s clear of Jenson Button. Hamilton was only fourth quickest after failing to set a representative time on the soft tyre, twice running wide at Turn 9 when on a quick lap.
Between Button and Hamilton was Fernando Alonso, who ended the session a second and a half slower than Rosberg. While the margin of Mercedes' advantage looks ominous ahead of qualifying, there was also not a representative time set by Felipe Massa in the Williams.
Things were worse for his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, however, who suffered a gearbox problem and only completed two laps. Bottas requires a gearbox change and will therefore take a five-place grid penalty ahead of qualifying.
Esteban Gutierrez also had a gearbox issue which slowed him on his second lap but after grinding to a halt between turns 10 and 11 he regained drive and managed to limp back to the pits. However, it marked the end of the session for Gutierrez – who will also take a grid penalty – and leaves Sauber with a busy afternoon trying to resolve the problem ahead of qualifying.
While Daniel Ricciardo was fifth quickest for Red Bull, he complained about issues with the front end and team-mate Sebastian Vettel – who was 12th – said the car was “horrible” due to engine driveablity, saying “the car doesn't accelerate”. He was another driver not to set a quick time on the soft tyre after struggling on his run on the options.
The woes continued for Lotus, with Pastor Maldonado completing 15 laps but ending the session with his car stricken in the final sector and over five seconds off the pace. That was still better than Romain Grosjean managed, who also described the E22 as “horrible” and failed to set a time in four laps.
Caterham's weekend effectively started on Saturday after failing to complete more than an installation lap on Friday, with Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson managing 40 laps between them in the hour-long session. However, both cars over five seconds off the pace, although seemingly in touch with the Lotus, Sauber and Marussia.