Robert Kubica leads the field with a 1-2 for BMW-Sauber. Raikkonen and Piquet are disappointing.
The third and final practice session for the 2008 FORMULA 1™ ING Australian Grand Prix starts in much cooler conditions than Friday’s two 90-minute sessions, with Nico Rosberg of Williams the first man out of pit lane.
First flying lap of the session is recorded by Super Aguri’s Anthony Davidson, who sets a time of 1min 33.744secs. His time is immediately beaten by Toro Rosso debutant Sebastien Bourdais, who jumps to P1 with a 1:29.366, quicker than his best lap yesterday afternoon.
Bourdais is the first man into the 1:28 bracket on his next lap, a 1:28.401. All drivers have completed installation laps bar Ferrari’s World Champion Kimi Raikkonen as Toyota’s Timo Glock runs wide onto the grass at Turn 15.
The BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica goes to P1 with a time of 1:28.256, half a second faster than his best time yesterday afternoon. Kubica lowers that to 1:28.187 the next time around.
Rosberg lowers the P1 time to 1:27.985, with Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel jumping to second, 0.080secs in arrears. Raikkonen’s first flying lap deposes Vettel, his time a 1:27.956. Raikkonen’s teammate Felipe Massa then jumps to first with a 1:27.707.
Renault’s two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso goes to P1 with a lap of 1:27.487, with Raikkonen taking the place off the Spaniard with a lap four one-hundredths faster. Rosberg then hauls the Williams to first with a 1:27.196. Both Red Bull entries of David Coulthard and Mark Webber are yet to record a flying lap after brake problems in the first 15 minutes.
Webber’s first flying lap is good for seventh as Lewis Hamilton runs wide across the grass at Turn 1 in the McLaren. Alonso takes P1 with a 1:27.167. No times yet from Coulthard, Hamilton, McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen, Toyota’s Jarno Trulli and Nelson Piquet of Renault.
Hamilton’s next lap gets the Briton to P4 behind Alonso, Rosberg and Raikkonen. The top 10 are all covered by less than a second. Coulthard runs off at Turn 9 but continues through the gravel trap.
Half-distance in the session, with all drivers bar Trulli now having set a time. Alonso is quickest, followed by Rosberg and Raikkonen, with Hamilton and Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima rounding out the top five. Piquet, sitting in 13th place, runs wide at Turn 3.
Vettel improves to fifth with a 1:27.517 as Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella continues an impressive first Grand Prix weekend for his brand-new team, slotting into ninth.
Raikkonen goes to P1 with a 1:27.163, just 0.004secs faster than Alonso, and runs off at Turn 1 immediately afterwards, recovering to the circuit.
Massa jumps to fourth, running just ahead of the recovering Raikkonen on the road, while Coulthard launches the Red Bull into fifth. Trulli slots the Toyota into fourth place with a 1:27.220 on his next tour. The top 19 cars are covered by just 1.024secs.
Vettel produces a stunning 1:26.663 lap on new harder tyres that vaults the young German into P1, exactly half a second quicker than Raikkonen. Webber then goes to P2 with a lap 0.170secs slower than Vettel. Fisichella then drops Webber to third with a 1:26.698 for Force India.
Rosberg goes to the top of the timesheets with a 1:26.171, the fastest time of the weekend to date, and just one-tenth slower than Raikkonen’s pole here last year.
Alonso takes P1 with a 1:26.082, 0.089secs faster than Rosberg. Nakajima runs very wide at the fast chicane at Turns 11 and 12.
Nick Heidfeld jumps to P1 with a superb lap of 1:25.950 with 40 seconds remaining. Teammate Kubica then beats that by 0.337secs to take first place.
Chequered flag, and Webber improves to sixth on his final tour. Kubica takes top spot, with Heidfeld in second for a BMW Sauber 1-2. Alonso is third, Rosberg fourth, and the Red Bulls of Coulthard and Webber fifth and sixth. Jenson Button is a promising seventh for Honda, while Vettel, Fisichella and Trulli round out the top 10. The Ferraris of Massa and Raikkonen are 11th and 14th respectively, while the McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen are back in 12th and 20th. Massa was the busiest man on track over the hour, completing 19 laps.