Following his strong showing on Friday, Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso continues to live up to the hype around him as he finishes top of the timesheet with the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez finishing P2 and P3 respectively.
With the third and final practice taking place in daylight, the majority of teams took it easy at the start of the 60-minute session, staying in the garage for the opening minutes.
Most of the drivers concentrated on the soft tyres in the session, trying to save the medium and the hard compound for the race as the C3 compound has proved a good compound for a one-lap qualifying run, but not for a race run.
Fernando Alonso led the way following the first runs and the Spaniard was able to improve his best time with his second fresh set of C3s, setting a benchmark of 1m32.340s. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen was on course to set the best lap time of the session, but he went slightly wide at the last corner which saw him lose the crucial final tenth of a second that would have been enough for the Dutchman to end up fastest.
Sergio Perez was a tenth back in the other Red Bull, just ahead of a much-improved Mercedes. The Anglo-German outfit struggled for pace yesterday, but they appeared to have made huge inroads in terms of balance of their W14 with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell seemingly enjoying the session.
The seven-time world champion finished just two tenths of a second down on Alonso’s benchmark while his teammate ended up sixth fastest.
Charles Leclerc was fifth in the lead Ferrari with his teammate Carlos Sainz taking only 8th behind Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. The Scuderia appeared to struggle for pace in the final 60-minute session with their new car, the SF23 appearing to be only the fourth quickest contender around the Bahrain International Circuit.
The Maranello-based team was the only outfit alongside Haas to carry out race simulations on heavy fuel run after both teams struggled with tyre managemenent both during testing and in yesterday’s practice sessions.
The mid-pack teams were closely matched once again with McLaren’s new recruit Oscar Piastri leading the way behind Aston Martin, Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari. 7
Alfa Romeo became the first outfit to put on the second set of fresh tyres. The Swiss-Italian squad’s Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu was 12th with his team mate Valtteri Bottas, who made a crucial mistake on his qualifying simulation lap, finished down in 17th.
Lando Norris ended up 13th fastest, with the Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg in 14th and 15th respectively just behind.
AlphaTauri had another quite session with Yuki Tsunoda setting the 16th fastest lap while his new team mate Nyck de Vries finishing down in last place. The Williams duo Logan Sargeant and Alex Albon ended up 18th and 19th fastest respectively with the Grove-based outfit’s new car appearing arguably much closer to the mid-pack than it was the case in 2022.
|1||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:32.340||13|
|2||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:32.345||+0.005s||12|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:32.446||+0.106s||11|
|7||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:32.919||+0.579s||15|
|9||81||Oscar Piastri||Mclaren Mercedes||1:33.045||+0.705s||11|
|10||10||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault||1:33.064||+0.724s||12|
|11||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:33.116||+0.776s||15|
|12||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:33.180||+0.840s||12|
|13||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:33.202||+0.862s||15|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:33.381||+1.041s||20|
|15||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari||1:33.423||+1.083s||22|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:33.475||+1.135s||14|
|17||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:33.629||+1.289s||13|
|18||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes||1:33.665||+1.325s||14|
|19||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:33.882||+1.542s||14|
|20||21||Nyck De Vries||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:34.082||+1.742s||18|