Max Verstappen posted the fastest time in third and final Formula 1 practice for the Australian Grand Prix, edging out Fernando Alonso. The World Champion’s late 1m:17.565s effort was enough to take him to the top of the time sheets on the Soft tyres, having focused his running on the Mediums throughout the 60 minute session. He pipped Alonso by 0.162s, with the Aston Martin fast but scrappy around the Albert Park circuit with Esteban Ocon third for Alpine in a strong session for the team with Pierre Gasly fifth. The session was brought to an effective early end by the arrival of race in the closing stages. Sainz initially fastest In the opening trading of times, it was Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz who initially hit the top of the times, lapping around the 1m:19 mark. The #55 Ferrari of Sainz managed to whittle himself down to a 1m:18.127s time on the Soft tyres, some 0.614s faster than the best Verstappen could manage on his Mediums. This remained the fastest time as the field began their long runs that could not be completed in yesterday’s FP2 session owing to the rain. Once the fuel was taken out, Verstappen switched to Softs and put in the 1m:17.565s effort to take him to P1 just before the arrival of late rain. Alonso also improved but fell short of overhauling the Red Bull by 0.162s. George Russell sandwiched the two Alpine drivers for Mercedes, finding time on his second late push lap whereas Lewis Hamilton could not, having gone 0.011s slower than the Sainz benchmark. Hamilton would finish eighth quickest behind Sergio Perez and Sainz. Perez endured a torrid session for Red Bull – missing a chunk of time with mechanical problems. Once he did emerge, multiple laps were ruined by running wide at Turn 3, the Mexican out-braking himself and then took a trip through the gravel at Turn 1. Lance Stroll and Zhou Guanyu rounded out the top 10. Leclerc only 13th On the Soft tyres, Leclerc was well behind teammate Sainz before Ferrari switched to the Medium tyres to focus on long runs. The Monegasque did not get a final lap to show his pace and was classified 13th fastest, some 1.1s behind Verstappen and behind Nico Hulkenberg and Alex Albon. Home favourite Oscar Piastri was 14th for McLaren, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Yuki Tsunoda – running the old AlphaTauri floor after damaging his new one in FP1. Logan Sergeant, Kevin Magnussen and Nyck de Vries were 17th, 18th and 19th, with de Vries bringing out a red flag for debris. Lando Norris was 20th and last for McLaren, a clutch problem curtailing his session and denying him a Soft tyre lap at the end.

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