Verstappen was faster than Alonso in FP3

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen beats Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in Saturday’s third free practice session for Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix.

After Friday’s rain-affected FP2, Saturday’s final practice session took place mainly at the dry Albert Park circuit despite clouds threatening Melbourne, although a morning drizzle further washed away the rubber built over the weekend.

Because of the disruptions on Friday, most teams wasted little time on the track getting their most fuel and qualifying runs.

World champion Verstappen opened his account with a 1m19.664s on medium tyres, and after being briefly deposed by Ferrari man Carlos Sainz’s soft tire effort, the Dutchman reclaimed his early P1 with a 1m18.741s.

Verstappen’s time was soon bested by the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in the only middle lap of the frontrunners. Monaco topped the softs with a 1m18.731s of 1m.18.691s.

Sergio Perez’s second Red Bull was in the garage in the opening stages as the Mexican’s mechanics worked on the rear of his RB19. Following Friday’s chaotic sessions, lost track time cost Perez more than usual.

After the 15-minute mark, Fernando Alonso set a 1m18.329s in his smooth Aston Martin, which was promptly bettered by a 1m18.127s by Sainz.

Fortunately for Perez, his mechanical problem was resolved so he could join the session 20 minutes later, but he was angered by Nico Hulkenberg’s trip as Haas climbed into the wall on his first push lap.

A large piece of debris from Nyck De Vries’ AlphaTauri sidepod was briefly red-flagged for the half.

Rapidly improving track conditions led to fast times hitting in the final 10 minutes, when a drizzle intensified near Turn 1 and sent the likes of Perez and Leclerc running wide.

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Alonso briefly took the lead with a 1m17.727s, with only the following car of Verstappen edging him with a 1m17.565s. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon used the improved track conditions to move up the line, finishing third 0.373s behind Verstappen and 0.017s ahead of Mercedes’ Jorge Russell.

Pierre Gasly’s second Alpine finished fifth, after which Perez saw his two hot laps ruined as he locked up under braking and took a run-off. Sainz and Lewis Hamilton, who were blocked in his final outing, finished seventh and eighth, while Aston’s Lance Stroll and Chow rounded out the top 10.

Hulkenberg finished 11th ahead of Williams man Alex Alban and Leclerc, who did not make the final round. Local favorite Oscar Piastre finished 14th for McLaren, followed by Valtteri Bottas’ second Alfa and Alfadari’s Yuki Tsunoda.

Logan Sargent (Williams) and Kevin Magnussen (Haas) were next, with De Vries and Lando Norris propping up the timesheets.

Norris sat out the latter part of the session with clutch problems in his McLaren and ran just 12 laps.

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