Max Verstappen put in a great effort to stop Mercedes from taking a clean sweep of Bahrain Grand Prix free practices by topping the final session with the best lap time of the weekend.
Drivers were in no rush to begin their preparation for the qualifying session when the lights went green with the majority of them waiting for the track conditions to become more representative. Temperatures were a couple of degrees higher than yesterday, making the tyre management even more complicated than on Friday.
Kimi Räikkönen was the first driver to post a timed lap by registering a time of 1m31.2. The Williams’ duo of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi followed the Finn, going two and five tenths of a second slower than the Finn.
With 40 minutes left on the clock, the rush hour began at the Bahrain International Circuit with the majority of the drivers rolling out onto the track on Pirelli’s soft compound.
After the first runs, Verstappen was at the top of the leaderboard with a time of 1m29.6. Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez followed the Dutchman with Valtteri Bottas finding himself down in P9. The Ferrari drivers continued their bad form with Charles Leclerc posting the 8th and Sebastian Vettel the 19th fastest lap time. The German’s dismal first timed lap was down to traffic with Russell holding up the Ferrari driver on his hot lap.
The soft-compound tyres held on for just a single flying lap with drivers finding it almost impossible to find the same grip level on the second timed lap. The only exception was the Red Bull duo with both Verstappen and Alexander Albon managing to go slightly faster with their second flying lap.
The Dutchman’s first stint was not without problems despite his strong lap time as a DRS-related wobbling rear wing caused headaches for his Red Bull team.
When drivers switched to new tyres, Valtteri Bottas quickly flew to the top with a time of 1m28.721. His lead did not last long as his team mate Hamilton quickly put himself to the top of the leaderboard, beating the Finn’s time by a tenth of a second.
Although the gains made by the Mercedes’ drivers on the new soft rubber were worrying, Verstappen found the way to react on that attack. The Dutchman posted the weekend’s fastest lap with a time of 1m28.355 which was enough to top the third and final session.
Hamilton was dogged by electrical problems at the end of the session. On top of those technical issues, his Mercedes team miscalculated the time left on the clock as they sent the Briton back out with not enough time remaining in the session. He had to park his W11 at the end of the pit lane and was then wheeled back into his garage by his mechanics.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:28.355||11|
|4||23||Alexander Albon||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:29.018||+0.663s||12|
|5||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:29.455||+1.100s||12|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:29.472||+1.117s||16|
|7||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:29.567||+1.212s||8|
|8||26||Daniil Kvyat||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:29.585||+1.230s||17|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:29.660||+1.305s||13|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:29.672||+1.317s||12|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:29.970||+1.615s||10|
|16||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:30.559||+2.204s||16|
|17||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||1:30.652||+2.297s||16|
|18||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||1:30.759||+2.404s||12|
|19||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:30.823||+2.468s||16|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:30.917||+2.562s||19|