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Lando Norris

Norris leads Leclerc in final practice as both Aston Martins crash

McLaren's Lando Norris topped final practice in Australia as both Aston Martin drivers crashed their cars.

Norris Australia
Article
To news overview © McLaren

Lando Norris set the fastest lap during the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

McLaren driver Norris put in a 1:19.117 during his qualifying simulations on the Soft (C5) tyre towards the end of the FP3 session, which was interrupted by two red flags due to crashes for the Aston Martin drivers.

Sebastian Vettel crashed at the 20-minute mark and, when the session resumed with 30 minutes to go, Alpine's Fernando Alonso took over at the front as the times began to come down, pipping Ferrari's Charles Leclerc by less than half-a-tenth.

Underlining McLaren's improvements this weekend, Norris then popped in a 1:19.117 on the Soft tyre to go quickest ahead of Alonso. However, he appeared to encounter an issue on his MCL36 as he received an urgent call to return to the pits close to the end of the session.

With five minutes remaining, Leclerc popped himself into second as he got a clean lap in on the Soft tyres. This was just in the nick of time, as the session was red-flagged again moments later when Lance Stroll also hit the barriers in his Aston Martin.

Result Free practice 3 - Australian

Pos. Driver Team Time
Results are being loaded...

Vettel and Stroll bring out the red flags

Continuing his miserable weekend, Vettel brought out the red flags as he crashed his Aston Martin at the high-speed chicane with a third of the session gone.

The four-time World Champion was forced to sit out most of Friday's running due to an engine problem in first practice, having only just returned to F1 action this weekend after missing the first two races with COVID-19.

Losing control of his AMR22 through the apex of the chicane, he went off into the gravel and hit the tyre barrier, ripping the left-side wheels off.

The session was stopped while the car was recovered, with Vettel sadly radioing in to apologise to his team for his error.

Worse was to follow for Aston Martin, as Stroll also ripped off the front-left corner of his car when he crashed with five minutes remaining.

Verstappen and Hamilton side-by-side

Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished the session in seventh place, having failed to get in a representative lap as he struggled with the handling of his RB18.

The Dutchman spun off at the penultimate corner on one of his runs, while a late attempt also saw him get wobbly through Turn 6. He ended the session with a time of 1:19.809, just over a tenth clear of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in eighth place.

Hamilton popped himself up into the top 10 for the first time this weekend, with George Russell going 11th quickest and just under two-tenths behind his teammate.

Also interesting:

Video: McLaren present their new F1 car!

Check out McLaren's new F1 challenger, the MCL36, which was presented to the world during a special launch ceremony.

F1 2022 Australian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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