F1 Australian Grand Prix 2024 FP3 highlights: Leclerc tops final practice session

Catch the live action as teams and drivers hit the track at Albert Park for FP3 during the 2024 Australian Grand Prix


Welcome to this Total-Motorsport.com blog for Free Practice 3 at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix, coming to you directly from the paddock at the Albert Park Circuit. As the Formula 1 season continues Down Under, join us for real-time updates, expert commentary, and behind-the-scenes insights into every thrilling moment of the action from FP3 in Melbourne

Free Practice 3 is the final opportunity for teams to refine their configurations and collecting important data ahead of Qualifying later in the day. It’s accompanied by its own set of forecasts and expectations as the conditions aren’t truly representative of the race.

Max Verstappen is yet to show his hand in the Red Bull so far this weekend, and was beaten by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in FP2 by almost 0.4s, while Lando Norris in the McLaren topped FP1 on Friday.

Join our live blog for the 2024 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Australian GP 2024 FP3 – News and updates

REPORT: Leclerc tops close FP3 ahead of qualifying

It looks to be Ferrari vs Red Bull out front as their tight duel in race trim continued to rage on through FP3. All four drivers were often within a few tenths of each other, making for an interesting race on Sunday if nothing goes wrong in qualifying.

But it could do, as in the dying embers of the session Mercedes threatened the timing charts over one-lap pace as Lewis Hamilton was within a tenth of Charles Leclerc’s fastest time of a 1:16.714, although we do not know engine modes as of yet.

Ten cars, from Yuki Tsunoda to Max Verstappen (2nd) were all within one second of Leclerc’s time meaning that the trend of a tight pack has continued throughout the weekend. Small errors will be very costly.

It was another pretty clean session other than some lock-ups and scary half-moments when the rear would occasionally step out as the F1 grid continued to show off their expect car control.

10 minutes to go: Hamilton up to second

Lewis Hamilton might have figured out the one-lap pace of his Mercedes in the dying embers of the session as he goes second-fastest to move 0.015 behind Carlos Sainz.

George Russell goes third fastest, a couple of tenths behind his Mercedes teammate on the same tyres.

Albon’s good performance

To be fair to him, Alex Albon is delivering in Logan Sargeant’s Williams car. They seem close to Lance Stroll over one lap, meaning a solitary point could be on the cards in the race.

There is a lot of pressure on Albon’s shoulders after his crash and the controversial actions since, and so far, he is delivering.

The Red Bulls and Ferraris are on mediums

All of Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are yet to whack on some soft tyres to see what their optimal one lap pace would be. They’re the only drivers yet to do so.

But they’re certainly going to be encouraged by the gaps. The last of the quartet, Perez, leads George Russell’s 6th-placed Mercedes by 0.330.

25 minutes to go: Sainz leads

Carlos Sainz has picked up exactly where he left off in Bahrain as the Spaniard leads a Ferrari 1-2 in Australia. Sainz has a 1:16.791 on the board with mediums.

He is 0.296 ahead of Leclerc, 0.309 ahead of Verstappen and 0.359 ahead of Perez as Ferrari and Red Bull look a long way clear in front.

Hamilton, looking to understand his new Mercedes car after changing set ups, goes 6th fastest with no improvement in the final sector after dipping into the gravel trap. He’s 0.7 off Sainz and a tenth slower than Russell.

Alonso is smoking hot… literally.

The Aston Martin driver gets stuck behind a Mercedes that has no intention of moving and he almost comes to a stop in order to find the space to start his own push-lap.

As he does so, both brake discs on his car are seen smoking away due to the incredible heat generated.

20 minutes gone: Verstappen on top

Verstappen leads the field with a 1:17.100 on medium tyres, beating Sergio Perez by 0.050 whilst the pair lead Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari by a pretty 0.457 and 0.407.

Alex Albon is fifth, last out of anyone to set a time, as he is 2.361 seconds off the pace.

Verstappen complaining, goes fastest

Max Verstappen sets the first time of the day, although all but seven of the drivers have actually hit the track so far and the only other one to set a time is Sergio Perez.

Verstappen was complaining about his brakes’ biting points but then he goes faster than his teammate by six tenths of a second anyway as Perez reports the same issue.

GREEN FLAG: FP3 begins!

This is the final chance teams have to nail their set-ups before they’re stuck with what they’ve got for qualifying and the weekend.

So far both McLarens and a Sauber are the first and only cars out on track after two minutes of the hour-long session.

Will Lewis Hamilton bounce back?

The seven-time world champion finished FP2 in 18th, almost a second down on his teammate and Toto Wolff admitted that he attempted a risky set-up to try to unlock the potential of the car.

So with the error laid bare for all to see, will Hamilton go for a more conventional set-up for FP3 and haul himself back up the times?

Max Verstappen and Red Bull are struggling

The defending world champions have not had it easy at all through the Australian GP so far as they have not topped any of the practice sessions.

Will FP3 continue to be the same?

Reminder: Logan Sargeant will not compete in the rest of the weekend

The American has had to forfeit his seat following Alex Albon’s crash in FP1.

The Thai-British driver wrecked his own Williams and now Logan Sargeant has had to give up his car as the team feels Albon still has the best chance to score a big result if it appears on the table.

Pirelli tyre preview for 2024 Australian GP | Pirelli
Pirelli tyre preview for 2024 Australian GP | Pirelli

Detailed 2024 Australian GP Session Times and Dates

The F1 season continues with the 2024 Australian Grand Prix. Below, find the complete schedule for the race weekend, including session times for viewers in the USA, the UK, Canada, as well as local time in Australia.

SessionDayAus. (AEDT)UK (GMT)US (ET)US (PT)
Practice 1Fri, Mar 2212:3001:3021:30*18:30*
Practice 2Fri, Mar 2216:0005:0001:0022:00*
Practice 3Sat, Mar 2312:3001:3021:30*18:30*
QualifyingSat, Mar 2316:0005:0001:0022:00
RaceSun, Mar 2415:0004:0000:0021:00*
*Previous Day
Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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