Hamilton hits back in final practice for Australian GP

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Lewis Hamilton responded to the pace shown by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in FP1 and FP2 by topping the final practice session for the Australian Grand Prix, giving him an edge heading into qualifying later today.

The British driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:27.867 to finish six-tenths of a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the top of the timesheets, with Rosberg finishing down in third place for Mercedes.

Mercedes once again proved in FP3 that it has lost none of its advantage from 2014, with Hamilton easing into first place on the soft compound tire in the final 10 minutes of the session. Although Rosberg did finish behind Vettel, it is likely that the Silver Arrows will be scrapping for pole position later today at Albert Park.

A number of teams did not enjoy such a good session, though. Red Bull had yet more problems with its Renault engine as Daniil Kvyat was forced to park up early on, leaving him at the bottom of the timesheets come the end of the session.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson suffered a spin heading out of the chicane on the back straight, but managed to avoid the wall, whilst Max Verstappen continued to wrangle with his Toro Rosso car.

Heading into qualifying, Mercedes remains the team to beat, but the battle for second will be very close indeed. Ferrari and Williams filled out the remaining positions in the top six, suggesting that Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa will be the men vying for a top three qualifying position later today.

You can watch qualifying live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2a ET today.