Formula 1

Max Verstappen storms to the top in Final Practice before Bahrain GP Qualifying

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Verstappen - Bahrain 2020
Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

In the final practice session before Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, it was Max Verstappen who topped the timesheets ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Prior to the session, the FIA folded under driver pressure and announced they would not be policing track limits at turn four to as stringent a degree as yesterday after a plethora of lap-time deletions saw complaints from all angles in the paddock. This marks a number of weekends in which the FIA have relented to such comments and they have subsequently come under heavy fire from fans.

The hour-long session began at 11:00 GMT and it was Kevin Magnussen who took to the Sakhir Circuit first- pursued only by a scarce number of others. The track temperature was ever so slightly higher than yesterday’s sessions, and so drivers seemed to be warded off by the non-representative conditions.

More than fifteen minutes had passed before one of the top three teams decided to dispatch a car, and it was Alexander Albon who occupied that role. The Thai driver attempted to make up for lost running and confidence after a heavy shunt yesterday saw him completely total his Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16. He went on to finish fourth overall.

Half an hour into the session, it was Max Verstappen who held the benchmark time of a 1:29.617, 0.3s ahead of Hamilton. Sergio Pérez followed close behind on what seems to be a weekend that’s shaping up well for him.

Shortly after, Verstappen experienced a strange failure as what looked to be the wing assembly of his DRS was oscillating heavily. He was pulled into the pits a lap later.

Bottas lit all three sectors up to propel himself to the top of the table as Verstappen was docile in the pits, but in no time at all his newly crowned world-champion team-mate stole the top spot away just as he stole the title. Max didn’t let that stick for too long, and on his first timed lap out of the garage after his wing conundrum he blitzed to first place.

With five minutes to go, Red Bull decided Verstappen’s rear-wing problem was too severe to run. They brought the Dutchman into the garage and started to work on disassembling the car. The problem- thought to be an actuator issue- was still being rectified as the session ended.

Lewis Hamilton was another who fell to victim to mechanical problems, and in the closing stages of the session the team pulled him back to investigate the suspected electrical issue.

The session ended with Verstappen ahead of Hamilton ahead of Bottas in the top three. Albon came out strong finishing in fourth after yesterday’s incident, closely followed by Carlos Sainz Jr., Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris, Daniil Kvyat, Lance Stroll and Pérez- completing the top ten.

Qualifying will start in just two hours-time, and as per usual it looks to be a battle between Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas for pole. Mercedes have taken pole in every race bar one so far in 2020, so it would no doubt be a pleasant surprise to see that streak broken.

Free Practice Three Timings:

Pos#DriverNat.TeamTimeGapLaps
133Max VerstappenNEDAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:28.355N/A11
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:28.6180.263s12
377Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:28.7210.366s14
423Alexander AlbonTHAAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:29.0180.663s12
555Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPMcLaren F1 Team1:29.4551.100s12
610Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:29.4721.117s16
74Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:29.5671.212s8
826Daniil KvyatRUSScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:29.5851.230s17
918Lance StrollCANBWT Racing Point Formula One Team1:29.6601.305s13
1011Sergio PérezMEXBWT Racing Point Formula One Team1:29.6721.317s12
113Daniel RicciardoAUSRenault DP World F1 Team1:29.6841.329s9
1231Esteban OconFRARenault DP World F1 Team1:29.6911.336s11
135Sebastian VettelGERScuderia Ferrari1:29.8591.504s15
1499Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing1:29.9701.615s10
1516Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1:30.1831.828s14
1663George RussellGBRWilliams Racing1:30.5592.204s16
178Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas F1 Team1:30.6522.297s16
1820Kevin MagnussenDENHaas F1 Team1:30.7592.404s12
197Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing1:30.8232.468s16
206Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1:30.9172.562s19
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