Verstappen tops quiet final Bahrain practice

Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images

Verstappen tops quiet final Bahrain practice

Formula 1

Verstappen tops quiet final Bahrain practice


Max Verstappen led the FP3 time sheet after a quiet final hour of practice ahead of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Dutchman broke Lewis Hamilton’s Friday practice streak with a time of 1m28.355s, the fastest lap of the weekend so far. He did so despite his Red Bull RB16 appearing to suffer from rear wing instability while using DRS, a problem his mechanics will seek to rectify in the two-hour break before qualifying.

Notwithstanding the problem, Verstappen’s time was enough to beat Hamilton to top spot by 0.263s.

Valtteri Bottas was a further tenth adrift of his Mercedes teammate, while Alex Albon, in a fresh chassis after his crash in second practice on Friday evening, was fourth and 0.66s shy of his Red Bull teammate.

The session featured little action, with no driver setting more than 16 laps in total and most setting closer to 10. Saturday afternoon practice doesn’t offer representative climatic conditions for the twilight-run qualifying and race sessions, so the limited usability of data gathered and the need to preserve power unit mileage made taking to the track unattractive.

Unusual too for a final practice session was that the soft tire monopolized running, a clear indicator that teams will favor the more durable medium compound in the middle segment of qualifying and the race, given it is less liable to overheat and suffer degradation in the desert heat.

No clear leader emerged behind the two front-running teams, with places five to 15 spread across 0.7s.

McLaren and AlphaTauri battled for best of the rest in the session, with Carlos Sainz pipping Pierre Gasly for fifth by 0.017s. Their respective teammates, Lando Norris and Daniil Kvyat, followed in seventh and eighth.

Racing Point slipped down the order after an impressive Friday, with Lance Stroll jumping ahead of teammate Sergio Perez to completed the top 10.

Daniel Ricciardo led Renault teammate Esteban Ocon in 11th and 12th. Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were underwhelming in 13th and 15th for Ferrari, split by Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.

George Russell was 16th and 2.2s off the pace for Williams but quick enough to beat Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.

Kimi Raikkonen was 19th for Alfa Romeo ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who was running with a new power unit after a fuel system problem was discovered in the Williams car’s Mercedes engine overnight.