FP3: Hamilton comfortably quickest

Date published: March 14 2015

Lewis Hamilton blitzed his rivals in Melbourne on Saturday as he was comfortably quicker than Sebastian Vettel, whose former team Red Bull had a bad day at the office.

Putting on the soft tyres after a few reported tweaks to his front suspension, Hamilton went out and posted a 1:27.867.

That time put him 0.954s up on his team-mate Nico Rosberg before Sebastian Vettel came along and slotted between the two Mercedes drivers.

However the Ferrari driver's best time, a 1:28.563, was still 0.696s slower than Hamilton's.

Valtteri Bottas was fourth for Williams, finishing ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. It looks set to be between those three and Vettel as to who could join the Mercedes drivers on the podium come Sunday.

Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado continued Lotus' return to form as they finished seventh and eighth ahead of Carlos Sainz and Felipe Nasr.

It was a dismal start to the day for Daniel Ricciardo – and the many Australian fans who flocked to the circuit to watch the local boy.

Having earlier complained about the "driveability" of his RB11 and its Renault engine, Ricciardo managed just five laps before coming to a stop at the exit of the pit lane as he headed out for another run.

There were several heads in hands on the Red Bull pit gantry and the glum looks continued even when Ricciardo was able to return to the action, adding another five laps to his tally.

He finished P13, 3.318s off the pace, while his team-mate Daniil Kvyat was 16th with just six laps to his name as he too had engine issues.

The only team slower than Red Bull were McLaren with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen both five seconds off the pace. They did, however, manage 27 laps between them.