Hamilton leads from Vettel in final Bahrain practice

World champion Lewis Hamilton beat Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel to the quickest time in final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The British driver led the way for the first time in a session this weekend, finishing with a best time of 1:34.599.

But the threat from Ferrari looked more real than ever, with Vettel less than a tenth of a second behind the Mercedes ahead of the grid-deciding session in two hours.

Nico Rosberg had to settle for third position in the second Mercedes, the German - yesterday's pace-setter - nearly four tenths off the pace.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth for Ferrari, the Finn chased by the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.

Pastor Maldonado finished in seventh in the Lotus, ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg and the Sauber of Felipe Nasr, who completed the top 10.

Several drivers took their time to jump onto the track as the wind made the conditions very tricky, with the circuit covered in sand despite the GP2 race taking place earlier.

McLaren's Jenson Button had no choice but to be one of the first men to run following the problems that affected him yesterday. The Briton set the early pace but was quickly outpaced by the Sauber of Nasr as the action was scarce on track.

Fifteen minutes in, only six drivers had posted a time, and Hamilton and Rosberg had not even gone out before that.

Rosberg needed just one lap to put Mercedes back on top of the times, but was outpaced first by Vettel and then by Raikkonen before the halfway point of the session, the Finn posting the first 1:36s lap of the session.

The session was red-flagged 30 minutes in when Daniil Kvyat lost control of his Red Bull at the exit of Turn 4.

The Russian lost the rear of his car under acceleration and spun. Although the spin seemed harmless, Kvyat left his car run backwards for too long and ended up rolling into the gravel.

The soft-tyre runs kicked off with some 10 minutes to go, and Force India's Hulkenberg led the way briefly before Rosberg retook P1 with a 1:34.968, over 1.5 seconds off his closest rival.

Hamilton leapt to the top with seven minutes left, while Vettel moved to second in the Ferrari just moments later.

FP3 results
Pos DriverTeamTimeGapLaps
01   L. Hamilton   Mercedes 1:34.599   13
02   S. Vettel   Ferrari 1:34.668 +0.069 14
03   N. Rosberg   Mercedes 1:34.968 +0.369 16
04   K. Raikkönen   Ferrari 1:35.141 +0.542 13
05   V. Bottas   Williams 1:35.393 +0.794 18
06   F. Massa   Williams 1:35.471 +0.872 15
07   P. Maldonado   Lotus 1:36.307 +1.708 14
08   D. Ricciardo   Red Bull 1:36.335 +1.736 8
09   N. Hulkenberg   Force India 1:36.421 +1.822 13
10   F. Nasr   Sauber 1:36.429 +1.830 18
11   J. Button   McLaren 1:36.488 +1.889 14
12   D. Kvyat   Red Bull 1:36.548 +1.949 7
13   M. Ericsson   Sauber 1:36.612 +2.013 17
14   M. Verstappen   Toro Rosso 1:36.684 +2.085 11
15   S. Perez   Force India 1:36.727 +2.128 14
16   F. Alonso   McLaren 1:36.899 +2.300 11
17   C. Sainz   Toro Rosso 1:36.979 +2.380 14
18   R. Grosjean   Lotus 1:37.151 +2.552 17
19   W. Stevens   Manor 1:39.745 +5.146 12
20   R. Merhi   Manor 1:40.541 +5.942 14

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Bahrain GP
Track Bahrain International Circuit
Drivers Jenson Button , Kimi Raikkonen , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Nico Rosberg , Pastor Maldonado , Sebastian Vettel , Nico Hulkenberg , Daniel Ricciardo , Valtteri Bottas , Felipe Nasr , Daniil Kvyat
Article type Practice report