Lando Norris and McLaren have thrown down the gauntlet in the buildup to Qualifying by topping the times for the final Practice session prior to Qualifying for the Formula 1® Heineken® Australian Grand Prix 2022.
Norris sped around the Albert Park circuit in 1m19.117s to steal top spot with 10 minutes remaining in the session, which ended a few minutes early with a red flag.
It was a strong session for McLaren-Mercedes, with Daniel Ricciardo in sixth place, giving signs that the team may be able to place both cars in the top 10 in the Qualifying session.
The Ferraris continued to show speed, with Charles Leclerc backing up his Friday performance with second-fastest time, while his teammate Carlos Sainz was fifth. Both drivers appeared to be comfortable in the red cars, which looked noticeably stable while other cars struggled in the windy conditions.
It could be though that Norris’s performance is slightly illusory, with the second of two red flags terminating an attempt at a fast run by Max Verstappen. The world champion had Soft tyres ready to go onto his Red Bull when the flags flew, leaving him without a chance to better his earlier lap time, which was good enough for just seventh place.
On the other hand, his teammate Sergio Perez was third fastest, just beating the Alpine of Fernando Alonso, who continues to show the best for himself and the team since the regulation change during the off-season.
Lewis Hamilton was back in eighth and the best of the Mercedes-Benz drivers. The seven-time world champion looked to have his car in a headlock for much of the session, running wide on several corners, as did teammate George Russell, who was even further back in 11th place.
The tough weekend for the Aston Martin team continued. After missing Friday’s afternoon session after an engine change (and a 3000 euro fine for riding a scooter on the track) Sebastian Vettel crashed his car in the middle of the session. That was followed by teammate Lance Stroll doing exactly the same thing with 10 minutes of the session remaining.
The team now faces a race to repair both cars in time for the three-stage Qualifying session, which is due to start at 4:00 pm.