Hamilton tops final Australian GP practice, as Red Bull and McLaren struggle

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Lewis Hamilton set the pace in final practice ahead of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who set the pace early in the hour-long session on the medium tyres, clocked a lap of 1:27.867 in the closing stages of practice with a late run on the soft Pirelli rubber to secure the top spot.

Sebastian Vettel was second for Ferrari after a late flier on the soft tyres, ahead of Nico Rosberg, who had to settle for third in the second Mercedes.

The two Williams team-mates of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were fourth and fifth respectively, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in sixth.

Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado ensured Lotus’ encouraging early form in Australia continued, with the pair seventh and eighth for the now Mercedes-powered team.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was ninth for Toro Rosso, while Felipe Nasr rounded out the top ten for Sauber.

Sainz’s Toro Rosso team-mate Max Verstappen finished the session 11th, ahead of Marcus Ericsson, in the second of the Saubers.

The two Force Indias were 13th and 14th, Nico Hulkenberg two tenths of a second clear of Sergio Perez.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo managed just 10 laps on route to 15th on the timesheets, some three seconds adrift of Hamilton’s session topping time, while Daniil Kvyat was 18th as he completed just six laps of his own.

McLaren’s miserable weekend continued as Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen were  just 16th and 17th, splitting the equally struggling Red Bulls.

Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens failed to run for Manor, as the team continues to prepare its cars following a software problem on Friday.

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS

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