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Australian GP: Hamilton fastest in final practice in Melbourne

Associated Press
Mar 17, 2012 at 10:33am IST

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Melbourne: McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in Saturday's final practice for Formula One's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, as two of the sport's biggest stars had session-ending spins.

Hamilton edged Lotus' Romain Grosjean by just eight hundredths of a second in the pre-qualifying session, with Red Bull's Mark Webber third fastest and McLaren's Jenson Button fourth.

Webber's teammate and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel had his session cut short when he spun off the track and got stuck in a gravel trap. The German finished seventh on the timesheets, but significantly posted that time on the harder of the two tyres, suggesting he will still challenge for pole on softer tyres later on Saturday.

Aus GP: Hamilton fastest in final practice

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel had his session cut short when he spun off the track and got stuck in a gravel trap.

Mercedes' Michael Schumacher also got beached in the gravel, and was sixth fastest, one place behind his teammate Nico Rosberg.

Williams' Pastor Maldonado, Sauber's Sergio Perez and Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten.

Ferrari had cause for concern, with Fernando Alonso down in 16th place and Felipe Massa in 18th. Both drivers struggled to wrestle the famous scarlet car around the Albert Park circuit. Massa was only three-tenths faster than the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen.

Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen was a second off the pace of his teammate Grosjean, and down in 18th. The Finn, back from two years away from F1, experienced difficulty with his steering settings on Friday.

After the wet weather of Friday's practice, Saturday's session was held in perfect conditions, with blue skies and moderate temperatures.


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