Sainz tops Bahrain GP final practice from Alonso

© XPB 

A late push on the soft tyre propelled Carlos Sainz to the top of the time sheets in Friday’s final practice in Bahrain, the Ferrari charger edging Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso by 0.141s.

Max Verstappen was third in a session in which Red Bull appeared once again to hide its hand. Behind the Dutchman, Charles Leclerc, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes’ George Russell capped the top six, while Lewis Hamilton settled for P12.

Overall it was a tight pecking order with just 0.572s covering the top ten.

There was a consensus in the paddock after Thursday’s opening day of running in Bahrain that Red Bull had kept its power dry and is expected to recoup its spot at the top of the timesheet in qualifying this evening.

Friday’s final practice kicked off under warmer conditions with the mercury raising to just above 20C and track temperatures set at 34.3C.

Furthermore, the wind had also died down compared to Friday much to the teams and drivers’ satisfaction. Overall, conditions were ideal for F1’s final dress rehearsal ahead of this evening’s qualifying.

However, given the unrepresentative track conditions, it was a typically a leisurely start for the field, with Hamilton the first driver to break the silence after six minutes.

The Briton was on his own for the better part of three laps, after which both Saubers and Williams’ Alex Albon joined the session.

As Leclerc and Sainz joined the fray, both Ferraris went top, at which point there were plenty of cars on tracks, all of which running on the soft tyre.

Aston’s Lance Stroll and Russell overhauled the Scuderia pair before Alonso went quickest with a 1m31.582s that outpaced the Mercedes driver by 0.239s.

Lando Norris who endured a messy final session on Thursday still appeared unsatisfied with the set-up of his McLaren MCL38, the Briton heading back to the team’s garage after his first run for some major work on the rear suspension.

Alonso continued to top the pecking order as the session reached its half-way mark, while both Red Bulls were sat in the lower tier of the pack, seemingly in no hurry to unleash their full might.

However, a set of softs bolted onto Perez’s RB20 was a tell-tale sign that things were about to get serious.

And indeed, with a little over 15 minutes left on the clock, the Mexican went top with a 1m31.248s.
But Verstappen then immediately knocked his teammate off the top spot, shaving 0.186s off Perez flyer.

But as the frontrunners switched to quali sims, Alonso took the lead but the Spaniard’s spot was short lived, with Sainz lowering the benchmark to 1m30.824s, 0.141s faster than the Aston Martin’s best.

The session thus concluded with Sainz on top and leading Alonso, Verstappen, Leclerc , Norris and Russell as far as the top six were concerned.

Thereafter followed Oscar Piastri, Perez, Nico Hulkenberg who confirmed Haas’ decent form and Stroll who rounded off the top ten.

Further back, Daniel Ricciardo led the second half of the field from Hamilton, Tsunoda, Magnussen, Albon, Zhou, Bottas, Ocon, Sargeant and Gasly who confirmed Alpine’s laggard status.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter