It was an almost a complete overcast session with occasional sunshine, but that didn't stop Mercedes from dominating the Free Practice 3 session. Nico Rosberg yet again topped the session, while Lewis Hamilton was his closest rival. Kimi Raikkonen like all through the weekend came close to sandwiching the Mercedes drivers, but ended up 1.1 seconds off the pace of his rivals. Vettel made his way through the P4 down by 1.3 seconds off the pace of Nico Rosberg, and Hulkenberg was the surprise entrant at P5. At one point both the Force India drivers were on Top 6.
Both the Lotus drivers needed some solid mileage under their belt, and Maldonado and Grosjean explored the off track areas in order to gather some extra bit of data under their belt, but actually Maldonado had 20 laps to his name. Only Massa and Bottas had the same amount of laps by the end of the session. Lotus have been clearly struggling this weekend, and their top speed would indicate that they are running on reduced scale to ensure that they finish the race.
Interestingly, Daniel Ricciardo was on the flyer and was outpacing his teammate but Vettel eventually managed to get an edge on his teammate towards the end of the session. The Austrian would end up on P6 with 1.6 seconds off the pace of the leaders. Alonso was struggling all weekend long as compared to his teammate and he was P7 as the Williams along with Perez rounded off the Top 10.
The STR duo of Kvyat and Vergne were at P11 and P12 and had a handful amount of laps under their belt. It would be really interesting to see if they could repeat their qualifying performance of Melbourne this weekend. Following Toro Rosso were the Sauber duo of Sutil and Esteban, along with Lotus duo of Grosjean and Maldonado. Marussia once again had a significant edge over their arch rivals Caterham.
Elsewhere, McLaren were still in the sport, and they were struggling during the installation laps. Kevin was affected by the Engine problem like yesterday, and Jenson was struggling with the rear end grip. The local media predicted the McLaren drivers to be the darkhorse of the weekend, and it was of such a pity to see them struggle throughout the Free Practice sessions.
Also, noteworthy is the fact that the drivers are battling for P3 as the Mercedes have sealed the top two spots. It's incredibly close downside of the Mercedes drivers, and Kimi is looking like a most strong contender of the weekend. Only 0.735 seconds separate the drivers from P3 to P9.
Although Qualifying won't be important for the weekend, it would be interesting to see who ends up where on the grid.