Hamilton edges Vettel by 0.069s in FP3

© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix but was less than 0.1s clear of Sebastian Vettel.

Having focused on long run pace during the early part of FP3, Hamilton set a best lap of 1:34.599 on the soft tyre. Vettel then followed him over the line and was just 0.069s slower than the championship leader, signalling Ferrari's potential to make life difficult for Mercedes in qualifying.

Nico Rosberg was third quickest but over 0.3s off his team-mate's best time, while Kimi Raikkonen was fourth and more than half a second adrift. Williams could also be a threat to Ferrari - as it was in qualifying in China - as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished the session fifth and sixth respectively, with Massa 0.3s off Raikkonen's effort.

The top six were covered by just 0.8s but there was then a gap of almost a second back to seventh as Pastor Maldonado continued to show strong pace in the Lotus. Maldonado headed a group of eight cars covered by 0.3s as the midfield battle looks tight, with McLaren in the mix as Jenson Button finished 11th after a much more smooth start to Saturday after Friday's woes.

Strong winds made conditions tricky for all the drivers, and Daniil Kvyat appeared to be caught out at Turn 4. With the wind direction a tailwind on exit of the corner, Kvyat spun as he got on the power but then strangely let the car roll backwards as if unaware he was eventually going to reach gravel. Once in the trap Kvyat hit the brakes but his car was beached and the session had to be red flagged after half an hour to recover the Red Bull.

Kvyat did manage to rejoin for one final run but ended the session with just seven laps to his name, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was the only other driver to fail to reach double figures.

With the session taking place under the afternoon sunshine, it was another largely irrelevant practice as qualifying and the race will take place after dark. However, the fight for Q3 looks set to be a close one as Maldonado in seventh was only 0.8s clear of team-mate Romain Grosjean down in 18th place.

Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were both over five seconds off the pace, but still comfortably within the 107% time.

Click here for analysis of the development war between Ferrari and Mercedes 

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Pos Driver Team Time Laps
01 L. Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.599 13
02 S. Vettel Ferrari 1:34.668 14
03 N. Rosberg Mercedes 1:34.968 16
04 K. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:35.141 13
05 V. Bottas Williams 1:35.393 18
06 F. Massa Williams 1:35.471 15
07 P. Maldonado Lotus 1:36.307 14
08 D. Ricciardo Red Bull 1:36.335 8
09 N. Hulkenberg Force India 1:36.421 13
10 F. Nasr Sauber 1:36.429 18
11 J. Button McLaren 1:36.488 14
12 D. Kvyat Red Bull 1:36.548 7
13 M. Ericsson Sauber 1:36.612 17
14 M. Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:36.684 11
15 S. Perez Force India 1:36.727 14
16 F. Alonso McLaren 1:36.899 11
17 C. Sainz Toro Rosso 1:36.979 14
18 R. Grosjean Lotus 1:37.151 17
19 W. Stevens Manor 1:39.745 12
20 R. Merhi Manor 1:40.541 14