Sakhir GP: Verstappen heads Bottas in FP3

Max Verstappen set the pace in final practice for the Formula 1 Sakhir Grand Prix, leading from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas as George Russell could only finish seventh.

Sakhir GP: Verstappen heads Bottas in FP3
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After seeing Mercedes debutant Russell lead both practice sessions on Friday at the Bahrain International Circuit, Verstappen was able to lead Red Bull to the head of the timesheets in FP3 on Saturday evening.

Verstappen spent the first half of the session focusing on hard tyre running, leaving him half a second behind early pace-setter Bottas, who ran almost four-tenths of a second clear of Russell on the soft tyre.

Verstappen had a brief spin at Turn 2 early in the session, losing the rear of his Red Bull RB16 after getting on the power, but avoided hitting the wall or any other cars.

Mercedes opted to complete its qualifying simulations earlier than Red Bull, giving Bottas the chance to improve his lap time, albeit losing a couple of tenths of a second after running wide at the final corner.

It left the door open for Verstappen to snatch top spot away upon completing his qualifying simulation on the soft compound tyre, recording a fastest time of 54.064 seconds to give him P1 by two-tenths of a second.

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Bottas ended the session second, while Russell slumped to seventh after struggling to match his team-mate’s pace through his low fuel runs, eventually finishing six-tenths of a second off Verstappen’s benchmark.

It allowed Pierre Gasly to continue AlphaTauri’s impressive showing ahead of the Sakhir Grand Prix as the Frenchman finished third-fastest overall, 0.363 seconds down on Verstappen.

Esteban Ocon was one of the last drivers to complete a qualifying run, but made use of the rubbered-in track to take fourth for Renault, while McLaren’s Lando Norris rounded out the top five.

Alexander Albon recovered from having two lap times deleted to finish sixth in the sister Red Bull car ahead of Russell, with the Racing Point pair of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll following in eighth and ninth place. Carlos Sainz Jr. completed the top 10 for McLaren.

Antonio Giovinazzi finished 11th for Alfa Romeo ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who struggled to match AlphaTauri team-mate as he finished 12th ahead of Charles Leclerc - who spun late in the session - and Daniel Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel’s session came to an early end after Ferrari opted to change his power unit as a precaution ahead of qualifying, with the four-time world champion ending FP3 in 15th.

Kimi Raikkonen took 16th for Alfa Romeo ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, with Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi following in 17th and 18th place for Haas and Williams respectively.

Pietro Fittipaldi and Jack Aitken propped up the timesheets at the end of FP3, although both finished within three-tenths of a second of their teammates.

Cla Driver Laps Time Gap km/h
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen 23 54.064   235.920
2 Finland Valtteri Bottas 20 54.270 0.206 235.024
3 France Pierre Gasly 24 54.427 0.363 234.346
4 France Esteban Ocon 21 54.453 0.389 234.235
5 United Kingdom Lando Norris 15 54.606 0.542 233.578
6 Thailand Alex Albon 22 54.629 0.565 233.480
7 United Kingdom George Russell 20 54.664 0.600 233.330
8 Mexico Sergio Perez 20 54.678 0.614 233.271
9 Canada Lance Stroll 18 54.693 0.629 233.207
10 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. 16 54.720 0.656 233.092
11 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi 20 54.845 0.781 232.560
12 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat 23 54.850 0.786 232.539
13 Monaco Charles Leclerc 21 54.854 0.790 232.522
14 Australia Daniel Ricciardo 15 54.857 0.793 232.509
15 Germany Sebastian Vettel 17 54.858 0.794 232.505
16 Finland Kimi Raikkonen 20 55.171 1.107 231.186
17 Denmark Kevin Magnussen 19 55.347 1.283 230.451
18 Canada Nicholas Latifi 21 55.493 1.429 229.845
19 Brazil Pietro Fittipaldi 21 55.666 1.602 229.130
20 United Kingdom Jack Aitken 23 55.670 1.606 229.114
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