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:
|1||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:28.355||N/A||11|
|2||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:28.618||0.263s||12|
|3||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:28.721||0.366s||14|
|4||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:29.018||0.663s||12|
|5||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||1:29.455||1.100s||12|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:29.472||1.117s||16|
|7||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:29.567||1.212s||8|
|8||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:29.585||1.230s||17|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:29.660||1.305s||13|
|10||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:29.672||1.317s||12|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:29.684||1.329s||9|
|12||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:29.691||1.336s||11|
|13||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||1:29.859||1.504s||15|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:29.970||1.615s||10|
|15||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1:30.183||1.828s||14|
|16||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1:30.559||2.204s||16|
|17||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas F1 Team||1:30.652||2.297s||16|
|18||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1:30.759||2.404s||12|
|19||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:30.823||2.468s||16|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:30.917||2.562s||19|