The final practice session ahead of the Australian Grand Prix took place on a dry Albert Park circuit, following Friday’s rain-affected FP2. Although a morning drizzle had washed away some of the rubber that had been built up over the weekend, most teams wasted little time taking to the track to get both their high fuel and qualifying runs in. World champion Max Verstappen opened his account with a 1m19.664s on medium tyres, with the Dutchman later reclaiming his early P1 with a 1m18.741s. Verstappen‘s time was soon bested by Charles Leclerc from Ferrari, with the latter setting a 1m18.691s on softs.
The second Red Bull of Sergio Perez remained in the garage for the opening stages as the Mexican’s mechanics worked on the rear of his RB19. Perez eventually joined the session after 20 minutes, but he fumed as he was nearly put into the wall on his first push lap by Nico Hulkenberg from Haas.
The session was briefly red-flagged just past the halfway mark for a large piece of debris from Nyck De Vries‘s AlphaTauri sidepod, which landed near the racing line near the fast Turn 9 kink, but after three minutes the action continued uninterrupted until the chequered flag.
The rapidly improving track conditions led to a barrage of fast times in the final 10 minutes before a drizzle near Turn 1 intensified and caused drivers like Perez and Leclerc to run wide. Fernando Alonso from Aston Martin briefly grabbed top with a 1m17.727s, only for Verstappen to demote him with a 1m17.565s. Esteban Ocon from Alpine also utilised the improved track conditions to move up the order, taking third 0.373s behind Verstappen and 0.017s ahead of Mercedes driver George Russell.
Pierre Gasly from AlphaTauri was fifth, followed by Perez, who saw two of his hot laps ruined by locking up under braking and taking to the run-off. Carlos Sainz from Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes followed in seventh and eighth, respectively, while Aston Martin‘s Lance Stroll and Zhou from Alpine rounded out the top 10.
Hulkenberg from Haas was 11th ahead of Williams driver Alex Albon and Leclerc, who didn’t get a final lap in. Local favourite Oscar Piastri from McLaren finished 14th, followed by the second Alfa of Valtteri Bottas and AlphaTauri‘s Yuki Tsunoda. Logan Sargeant from Williams and Kevin Magnussen from Haas were next up, with De Vries and Lando Norris from McLaren propping up the timesheets. Norris only ran 12 laps, sitting out the last part of the session with a clutch problem on his McLaren.