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F1 Australian GP: Hamilton tops dry FP3 with Rosberg, Vettel close

Lewis Hamilton leads a familiar Mercedes 1-2 in the dry FP3 session for the Australian Grand Prix, but Sebastian Vettel is just two tenths adrift.
CLICK HERE for full Australian Grand Prix FP3 results

Lewis Hamilton will head into the new-look Formula 1 qualifying session with a minor edge over the competition as he topped the first fully dry session of Australian Grand Prix weekend in FP3.

The first chance for the teams to get out on the super soft tyres, Mercedes left it until relatively late in the session to give Hamilton and Nico Rosberg the chance to stretch their legs in the W07, though both had thrown a daunting gauntlet down by setting a fierce pace on soft rubber already.

However, with super-softs on the times were substantially closer, with Hamilton coming out top on his 'red' tyre lap, just 0.176secs ahead of team-mate Rosberg, who had been quicker on the soft tyres.

Interestingly, having been eight tenths back on that tyre, Sebastian Vettel found himself much closer when it mattered, ending up just two tenths adrift of Hamilton and within half a tenth of Rosberg in second position.

In a surprise performance, Carlos Sainz was a hugely impressive fourth quickest for Toro Rosso, not only proving faster than Kimi Raikkonen, but doing so on merit with a time just six tenths adrift of the top spot. Furthermore, with Max Verstappen in sixth position, the new Ferrari-powered car is looking in strong shape heading to qualifying.

A low key session for Williams would see Valtteri Bottas lead its charge in seventh position, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez in the Force India, the Mexican recovering from a spin at the penultimate bend when he dropped a rear-wheel on the still damp grass.

The first proper chance of the year to form some kind of order amongst the teams, eight tenths would cover sixth down to 13th, with 3.6secs covering the entire field.

Fernando Alonso – despite a quick spin out of the penultimate bend - and Jenson Button remain in tandem in 11th and 12th for McLaren, while Renault found itself a modest 15th and 17th, Kevin Magnussen out-braking down the turn 12 escape road (with Rosberg) and Jolyon Palmer taking a trip across the gravel at turn six on his last fast run.

Elsewhere, Haas' session got off to inauspicious start when a late release by Manor on Rio Haryanto saw the Indonesian strike the side of Romain Grosjean's car in the pit lane at the start of the session. Despite this, Esteban Gutierrez and Grosjean were a respectable 2.6secs off the ultimate pace. Manor brought up the rear, Pascal Wehrlein eight tenths off next slowest driver Felipe Nasr.
by Ollie Barstow

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