Mercedes stay on top but Ferrari are close

2016 Australian Grand Prix third practice

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Lewis Hamilton made it three out of three in practice for the Australian Grand Prix but Ferrari were just 0.2s off the pace ahead of qualifying.

The silver cars waited until the final ten minutes of the session before giving a clue to their pace on the super-soft tyres. Hamilton and Nico Rosberg took up their customary places at the top of the times sheets.

However Sebastian Vettel, who locked up at turn 15 as he set his quickest time in the Ferrari a few minutes before the Mercedes, ended the session within two tenths of a second of the champion.

His team mate Kimi Raikkonen was over half a second behind in fifth place, separated by his team mate by the flying Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jnr. Max Verstappen back up his team mate with the sixth-fastest time.

The times were close behind the second Toro Rosso: Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo were both within a tenth of a second of Verstappen. The two McLaren drivers were both within a tenth of a second of being inside the top ten.

Fernando Alonso began his session with a harmless spin at turn 15 as the drivers got down to work quickly in the first fully dry session of the weekend. Sergio Perez also had a quick spin at the slow left-hander.

As the drivers hurried to exit the pits at the beginning of the session newcomer Rio Haryanto tangled with Romain Grosjean as both pulled out of their pit garages. Damages to the two cars was minimal, though Haas had to switch floors on Grosjean’s VF-16.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’25.62424
26Nico RosbergMercedes1’25.8000.17625
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1’25.8520.22825
455Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’26.2570.63328
57Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’26.4350.81123
633Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Ferrari1’26.7011.07726
777Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’26.7301.10628
83Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’26.7681.14422
919Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’27.1511.52728
1011Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’27.2421.61822
1114Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’27.2631.63920
1222Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’27.3411.71720
1326Daniil KvyatRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’27.4301.80622
149Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’27.6592.03526
1520Kevin MagnussenRenault1’27.8712.24724
1627Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’27.9882.36422
1730Jolyon PalmerRenault1’28.1172.49324
1821Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’28.2842.66021
198Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’28.2922.66811
2012Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’28.2932.66926
2194Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’29.0463.42218
2288Rio HaryantoManor-Mercedes1’29.2723.64823

Third practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’25.624

+0.176 Nico Rosberg – 1’25.800

+0.228 Sebastian Vettel – 1’25.852

+0.633 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’26.257

+0.811 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’26.435

+1.077 Max Verstappen – 1’26.701

+1.106 Valtteri Bottas – 1’26.730

+1.144 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’26.768

+1.527 Felipe Massa – 1’27.151

+1.618 Sergio Perez – 1’27.242

+1.639 Fernando Alonso – 1’27.263

+1.717 Jenson Button – 1’27.341

+1.806 Daniil Kvyat – 1’27.430

+2.035 Marcus Ericsson – 1’27.659

+2.247 Kevin Magnussen – 1’27.871

+2.364 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’27.988

+2.493 Jolyon Palmer – 1’28.117

+2.660 Esteban Gutierrez – 1’28.284

+2.668 Romain Grosjean – 1’28.292

+2.669 Felipe Nasr – 1’28.293

+3.422 Pascal Wehrlein – 1’29.046

+3.648 Rio Haryanto – 1’29.272

Full practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2FP3Fri/Sat diffTotal laps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’29.7251’38.8411’25.624-4.10145
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’31.8141’47.3561’25.800-6.01440
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’40.7611’25.852-14.90940
4Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’39.6941’26.257-13.43747
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’40.7541’39.4861’26.435-13.05140
6Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Ferrari1’31.7201’26.701-5.01940
7Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’34.5501’26.730-7.8236
8Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’30.8751’39.5351’26.768-4.10744
9Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’34.6791’27.151-7.52836
10Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’33.3701’41.2561’27.242-6.12836
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’33.0601’39.8951’27.263-5.79747
12Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’33.1291’40.0081’27.341-5.78849
13Daniil KvyatRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’30.1461’42.4111’27.430-2.71646
14Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’37.9561’27.659-10.29732
15Kevin MagnussenRenault1’34.0601’27.871-6.18938
16Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’31.3251’39.3081’27.988-3.33738
17Jolyon PalmerRenault1’35.4771’28.117-7.3641
18Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’41.7801’42.8911’28.284-13.49639
19Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’43.4431’43.7311’28.292-15.15125
20Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’34.7961’28.293-6.50333
21Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’40.4011’43.4011’29.046-11.35549
22Rio HaryantoManor-Mercedes1’43.3721’44.3041’29.272-14.152

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “Mercedes stay on top but Ferrari are close”

  1. This looks like it could be a MUCH better year with real competition for Merc out of Ferrari and possibly even others!!!

    Can’t wait to see it :)

  2. For context, last year Ferrari were 0.696s slower than Mercedes in final practice. In qualifying the gap more than doubled to 1.43s.

    1. yes, lets see how much Mercedes was keeping in hand. Afterall it was the first time either Mercedes was on supersofts this season today!

    2. @keithcollantine Which also gives a clear indication that this circuit suits Mercedes. Ao no panic when they win this one easily.

  3. STR being up there with Ferrari and Mercs with a 2015 PU shows how good their chassis is. Or Ferrari have an equally good chassis and they only got .4s improvement from the engine change.

    Only STR did it with a lot less money on the table. Kimi needs to improve big time.

    1. Kimi stuck behind Sauber during his FL on SS..Could set better time

  4. If Vettel didn’t make that mistake, he could be ahead of the Mercs right now, or at least Rosberg. I think we may have a serious fight this year!

    Please, let my predictions be right! We’ll find out in 2 hours

  5. Well, Mercedes for the first time ever used this red tyres on the new W07. They have more to learn from the tyres than the others.

    With soft tyres they were all conquering as usual.

    1. Vettel had a bad lap on his soft fastest run.

  6. Grey skies and light rain 1/2 hour after p3 but it looks like it should be gone for q1-2-3 but there is still some rain at Sea S of Port Philip bay, to see for yourselves ; BOM.GOV.AU

    1. I’ll revise that, could be rain towards the end of qually, quite a solid band of rain 60km upwind of the track.

  7. 3 sessions down, and Gut has beat Gro in all of them? What is this madness?

    1. @grippgoat, I think that Gutierrez is underrated by most people, but there must be a reason Ferrari kept him as 3rd or test driver last year and also he was not so bad when driving for Sauber in 2013, in the second half of the season cause no doubt he had a very rocky start.
      But his fellow mexican, Perez, also had a rocky start but matured enough to be fighting toe to toe with Hulkemberg (also Gutierrez’s team mate in 2013).

      Still I would expect Grosjean to beat him regularly, at least if the car does not let him down.
      In addition to this, Haryanto damaged Grosjean’s car at the start of FP3 so this can explain why he was slower than Gutierrez.
      We will see how it goes in qualifying and tomorrow to have a better idea.

    2. Well spotted. Looks like GUT is indeed not as bad as most of us thought he was.

      If GRO doesn’t beat GUT by a handsome margin, I think his chance of ever landing a top seat is gone. Similar to Hulkenburg.

  8. First race weekend and first crash for Haryanto. And not even racing not even on the track :-D

  9. Really surprising to see Williams not in the thick of things. They seem to have gone further back and will struggle to retain 3rd place in. Constructors. Force India could impress in the first half of the season but Red Bull form seems ominous and could take the fight to Ferrari.
    Exciting season ahead. I predict that Hamilton will not be as dominant as last year as the pack is closing behind. Sauber seem destined to lead the back marker.

  10. I expected the Ferraris to be down on Mercedes by around half a second, so let’s see where they stand at the end of Q3.

    Rest of the standings were expected, the Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Williams battling for 3rd, followed by Force India. Then the battle in the lower midfield will be between Mclaren and Renault, followed by Sauber, Haas and Manors. I think currently the Toro Rosso drivers are punching slightly above their weight, which might make for an interesting race tomorrow.

    Also glad to see Mclaren are in better shape than last year. They were 3.5 seconds off the Merc pace when they started the season last year and managed to finish the season 2.5 seconds off Merc Pace. This season they start 1.6 secs of Merc pace, so hopefully they will be within a second at the end of the year. Honestly, you have to just be glad that Mclaren isn’t battling the Haas and Manors at the back of the grid.

  11. F1 seems so strong right now. The midfield is more competitive than it has been for years.

    1. Mercedes – goes without saying
    2. Ferrari – Making inroads on Mercedes
    3. Red Bull – Look strong, especially in the wet. Just signed an exciting deal with Aston Martin
    4. Williams – Still solid, much better than a few years ago
    5. Force India – Strong with the new wind tunnel and 2015 results. Good driver lineup.
    6. McLaren – Honda are improving and they seem to be competitive again. They also have a great driver lineup.
    7. Toro Rosso – Seem to have designed a really fast car and have two exciting rookies.
    8. Renault – A huge in flux of cash means they will improve steadily for the next few years. They also got rid of Maldonado.
    9. Haas – New team with money. Great for F1.
    10. Manor – Seem to actually be somewhat competitive now. We have essentially gone from 9 teams to 11.
    11. Sauber – Probably the only non-promising team on the grid right now, but they were solid last year and can still steal points every now and then.

    The strength of these teams along with the removal of a few pay drivers has me looking forward to this season and optimistic about the future of F1.

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