Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) Marks Fastest Lap Ever at Melbourne
Sebastian Vettel set the fastest lap ever seen in Melbourne to put Ferrari 1/2 second clear of MercedesAMG and throw down challenge ahead of the 1st qualifying session of the F1 new season.
Mr. Vettel stopped the clocks in 1m 23.380s, breaking his own Pole winning lap record from Y 2013, and then watched on as neither Valtteri Bottas nor Lewis Hamilton could get within 0.4sec of his mark.
Kimi Raikkonen was 4th in the 2nd Ferrari, a couple of 10’s back, after a puncture disrupted his runs on the ultrasoft tire.
The Scuderia is at the front.
Red Bull struggled: local hero Daniel Ricciardo was beaten to 5th by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, while Max Verstappen was languishing down in 12th without a qualifying run when the session was brought to an early close after Williams’ Lance Stroll hit the wall at turn 10.
At Sauber Antonio Giovinazzi, brought on to replace Pascal Wehrlein for the rest of the weekend wound up 20th in what was his 1st ever Grand Prix outing.
The session started under an overcast sky, but Ferrari bolted on the ultrasofts and duly hit the front, Mr. Vettel edging Mr. Raikkonen by 1/2s after the pair’s opening runs.
With MercedesAMG and the rest of the field delaying their switch to the Ultra-s tire, top spot became an all-Ferrari duel.
Mr. Raikkonen responded with a 1m 23.988s to pip Mr. Vettel by 0.001s, only for him to respond by setting the fastest lap ever seen at Albert Park.
On his own Ultra-s run, Mr. Ricciardo managed a disappointing 1m 25.092s for sixth, leaving him trailing the impressive Hulkenberg by 3/100s.
The MercedesAMG drivers switched to ultrasofts with 20 minutes remaining, but neither could deny Mr. Vettel.
Mr. Bottas went 2nd fastest on 1m 23.859s, 0.479s off Mr. Vettel, while Mr. Hamilton produced the best 1st sector of any driver but then saw his lap fall away, leaving him 3rd overall. His 1m 23.870s was slower than he managed yesterday however, suggesting there is room for improvement.
Any hopes Mr. Hamilton or the rest of the field had of responding were denied when Mr. Stroll caught the wall and brought out Red Flags that lasted for the remainder of the session. Mr. Stroll will require a gearbox change before qualifying – compounding an already difficult session for Williams in which Felipe Massa also struggled with brake problems.
Mr. Massa wound up just outside the Top 10, which was instead filled by Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, in 7th and 10th respectively, and Toro Rosso team mates Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat.
A great session for Ferrari bringing up some Big Q’s as we head towards the 1st qualifying session of F1’s New Era.
2017 FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX – PRACTICE 3
2426 Mar 2017Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne
|6||3||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:25.092||+1.712s||15|
|12||33||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:26.269||+2.889s||7|
|13||11||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:26.457||+3.077s||12|
|16||31||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:27.103||+3.723s||16|
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