FP3: Verstappen spoils Mercedes' party in final practice

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

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.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
133Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:28.35511
244Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:28.618+0.263s12
377Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:28.721+0.366s14
423Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:29.018+0.663s12
555Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:29.455+1.100s12
610Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:29.472+1.117s16
74Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:29.567+1.212s8
826Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA1:29.585+1.230s17
918Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:29.660+1.305s13
1011Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:29.672+1.317s12
113Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:29.684+1.329s9
1231Esteban OconRENAULT1:29.691+1.336s11
135Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:29.859+1.504s15
1499Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:29.970+1.615s10
1516Charles LeclercFERRARI1:30.183+1.828s14
1663George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:30.559+2.204s16
178Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:30.652+2.297s16
1820Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:30.759+2.404s12
197Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:30.823+2.468s16
206Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:30.917+2.562s19