Bahrain GP: Verstappen heads Mercedes duo in FP3

Alex Kalinauckas
·4 min read

Under clearer skies than Friday’s FP1, the 60-minute final session got off to a fairly lifeless start, with most cars remaining in their garages for the opening 20 minutes.

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen set the first timed lap of the session at the eight minute mark, a 1m31.247s that stood as the fastest time for nearly 15 minutes as the Finn continued to lap before he was joined by the two Williams cars.

When most of the rest of the pack eventually emerged, Raikkonen’s teammate Antonio Giovinazzi went quicker with a 1m31.025s before a flurry of faster times were set.

Lando Norris briefly headed the times with a 1m30.427s, before Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez improved – with the Racing Point driver lowering the P1 benchmark to a 1m30.159s.

A few minutes later all of the cars had appeared for the first time – no drivers bothered with the medium or hard tyres that are set to be much better race compounds compared to the softs, of which the drivers have eight sets each compared to just two mediums and three hards.

Verstappen moved to the top of times just before 25 minutes had been completed with a 1m29.617s, while Mercedes only took second and 10th on its opening runs with Hamilton and Bottas.

Just past the halfway point, Verstappen went quicker again with a 1m29.600s, on a lap where the top plane of his rear wing was flexing dramatically with the DRS opening activated.

The Red Bull driver completed his run, and his team were seen working on the rear wing when he returned to the garage.

At the start of the final 15 minutes, Mercedes, which sacrificed any set-up work on Friday to try and get a better understanding of the prototype 2021 tyres the teams had to run yesterday, had both its drivers improve on its final runs.  

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Bottas moved the top of the times with a 1m28.721s, with then fastest times in all three sectors, before Hamilton usurped him with a 1m28.618s – gaining time as the lap went on to end up 0.103s ahead.  

But both were ultimately shuffled down by Verstappen, whose rear wing continued to flex on his final run, as he blitzed the opening two sectors and set a personal best in the final segment to go quickest with a 1m28.355s – 0.263s quicker than Hamilton’s time.  

Albon ended up fourth ahead of Carlos Sainz and Gasly, with Lando Norris seventh in the second McLaren.  

Daniil Kvyat was eighth for AlphaTauri, ahead of Racing Point pair Lance Stroll and Perez.  

The Ferrari drivers finished 13th and 15th, with Sebastian Vettel ahead of Charles Leclerc, who so nearly won the 2019 race in Bahrain.  

Hamilton’s session had a somewhat unusual end as he was forced to stop at the end of the pitlane in the closing moments as the exit light turned red, which meant his mechanics had to run down from the Mercedes garage to recover his W11.

1

Netherlands

Max Verstappen

11

1'28.355

220.510

2

United Kingdom

Lewis Hamilton

12

1'28.618

0.263

0.263

219.856

3

Finland

Valtteri Bottas

14

1'28.721

0.366

0.103

219.600

4

Thailand

Alex Albon

12

1'29.018

0.663

0.297

218.868

5

Spain

Carlos Sainz Jr.

12

1'29.455

1.100

0.437

217.798

6

France

Pierre Gasly

16

1'29.472

1.117

0.017

217.757

7

United Kingdom

Lando Norris

8

1'29.567

1.212

0.095

217.526

8

Russian Federation

Daniil Kvyat

17

1'29.585

1.230

0.018

217.482

9

Canada

Lance Stroll

13

1'29.660

1.305

0.075

217.300

10

Mexico

Sergio Perez

12

1'29.672

1.317

0.012

217.271

11

Australia

Daniel Ricciardo

9

1'29.684

1.329

0.012

217.242

12

France

Esteban Ocon

11

1'29.691

1.336

0.007

217.225

13

Germany

Sebastian Vettel

15

1'29.859

1.504

0.168

216.819

14

Italy

Antonio Giovinazzi

10

1'29.970

1.615

0.111

216.552

15

Monaco

Charles Leclerc

14

1'30.183

1.828

0.213

216.040

16

United Kingdom

George Russell

16

1'30.559

2.204

0.376

215.143

17

France

Romain Grosjean

16

1'30.652

2.297

0.093

214.923

18

Denmark

Kevin Magnussen

12

1'30.759

2.404

0.107

214.669

19

Finland

Kimi Raikkonen

16

1'30.823

2.468

0.064

214.518

20

Canada

Nicholas Latifi

19

1'30.917

2.562

0.094

214.296

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