FP3: Alonso tops final practice as Mercedes picks up pace

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Following his strong showing on Friday, Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso continues to live up to the hype around him as he finishes top of the timesheet with the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez finishing P2 and P3 respectively.

With the third and final practice taking place in daylight, the majority of teams took it easy at the start of the 60-minute session, staying in the garage for the opening minutes.

Most of the drivers concentrated on the soft tyres in the session, trying to save the medium and the hard compound for the race as the C3 compound has proved a good compound for a one-lap qualifying run, but not for a race run.

Fernando Alonso led the way following the first runs and the Spaniard was able to improve his best time with his second fresh set of C3s, setting a benchmark of 1m32.340s. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen was on course to set the best lap time of the session, but he went slightly wide at the last corner which saw him lose the crucial final tenth of a second that would have been enough for the Dutchman to end up fastest.

Sergio Perez was a tenth back in the other Red Bull, just ahead of a much-improved Mercedes. The Anglo-German outfit struggled for pace yesterday, but they appeared to have made huge inroads in terms of balance of their W14 with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell seemingly enjoying the session.

The seven-time world champion finished just two tenths of a second down on Alonso's benchmark while his teammate ended up sixth fastest.

Charles Leclerc was fifth in the lead Ferrari with his teammate Carlos Sainz taking only 8th behind Aston Martin's Lance Stroll. The Scuderia appeared to struggle for pace in the final 60-minute session with their new car, the SF23 appearing to be only the fourth quickest contender around the Bahrain International Circuit.

The Maranello-based team was the only outfit alongside Haas to carry out race simulations on heavy fuel run after both teams struggled with tyre managemenent both during testing and in yesterday's practice sessions.

The mid-pack teams were closely matched once again with McLaren's new recruit Oscar Piastri leading the way behind Aston Martin, Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari. 7

Alfa Romeo became the first outfit to put on the second set of fresh tyres. The Swiss-Italian squad’s Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu was 12th with his team mate Valtteri Bottas, who made a crucial mistake on his qualifying simulation lap, finished down in 17th.

Lando Norris ended up 13th fastest, with the Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg in 14th and 15th respectively just behind.

AlphaTauri had another quite session with Yuki Tsunoda setting the 16th fastest lap while his new team mate Nyck de Vries finishing down in last place. The Williams duo Logan Sargeant and Alex Albon ended up 18th and 19th fastest respectively with the Grove-based outfit's new car appearing arguably much closer to the mid-pack than it was the case in 2022.


114Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:32.34013
21Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:32.345+0.005s12
311Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:32.446+0.106s11
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:32.555+0.215s17
516Charles LeclercFerrari1:32.624+0.284s20
663George RussellMercedes1:32.731+0.391s17
718Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:32.919+0.579s15
855Carlos SainzFerrari1:32.945+0.605s20
981Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:33.045+0.705s11
1010Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:33.064+0.724s12
1131Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:33.116+0.776s15
1224Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:33.180+0.840s12
134Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:33.202+0.862s15
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:33.381+1.041s20
1527Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:33.423+1.083s22
1622Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:33.475+1.135s14
1777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:33.629+1.289s13
182Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:33.665+1.325s14
1923Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:33.882+1.542s14
2021Nyck De VriesAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:34.082+1.742s18