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Sakhir GP: Verstappen heads Bottas in FP3

Luke Smith
·3-min read

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.

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

View full results