MELBOURNE: Formula One champion Max Verstappen topped the timesheet for Red Bull in the third and final practice at the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday (Apr 1) but his team mate Sergio Perez struggled through a mishap-strewn session.
Dutchman Verstappen lapped Albert Park in one minute and 17.565 seconds, 0.162 seconds clear of Fernando Alonso, as Astor Martin continued to show encouraging pace.
Perez posted the sixth fastest lap but skidded off track several times after being confined to the garage for the first 20 minutes as a raft of engineers worked on the back of his car.
When he joined the session late, he very nearly ploughed into the back of Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg who was trundling along on a high fuel load.
“Man, why did you put me on this gap?” Perez snapped on the team radio.
Perez later slid on to gravel off turn three and again off turn one in the final minutes.
Esteban Ocon was third quickest for Alpine ahead of George Russell’s Mercedes.
Ocon’s teammate Pierre Gasly was fifth fastest.
Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were seventh and 13th quickest, respectively, while seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton was eighth fastest for Mercedes.
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen was the first driver to come to grief as he slid off track at turn 13 and skidded along the grass before halting just short of track-side barrier.
A red flag halted the session just over halfway through as track staff cleaned up debris left by Nyck de Vries’s AlphaTauri car.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu also came off into grass at turn two before spinning out of control late in the session.