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F1 Bahrain GP: Sainz tops FP3 from Alonso, Verstappen

A flurry of final hot-laps interspersed among the final 10 minutes created a changing order after the Red Bulls moved to the top for a short spell, Verstappen capturing a 1m31.062s over team-mate Sergio Perez.

Alonso, who had been on top previously, reclaimed his advantage at the head of the field having become the first driver of the session to get below the 1m31s mark.

However, his countryman Sainz managed to pull 0.141s out of Alonso’s time, finishing the session atop the order for an all-Spanish 1-2.

Unrepresentative track conditions compared to those expected in qualifying and Saturday’s race ensured that FP3 would be of limited value, although it nonetheless offered track time to those looking to tie up any loose ends before the high-value sessions.

Track temperatures of 34 degrees C at the start of the session proved relatively undesirable, thus producing a six-minute wait before any track action took place; Lewis Hamilton broke the deadlock to gather some mileage for Mercedes.

The seven-time champion had the track to himself in the early phases and thus it was inevitable that he would move to the top; a 1m32.733s served as the initial benchmark on a set of soft tyres.

Another hiatus followed when Hamilton pitted, although this was somewhat shorter as Ferrari duo Sainz and Charles Leclerc took to the road as the track temperatures began to fall.

Once the opening quarter of an hour came to an end, a few more takers were willing to occupy the track; Leclerc posted a 1m32.677s to overturn Hamilton’s early hegemony over the times, while Sainz fell a tenth short of his team-mate.

With more track action, the times began to fall. Kevin Magnussen rose to the top by two tenths, before he was overturned by Lance Stroll in the Canadian’s initial run.

George Russell then burst onto the scene and posted a 1m31.821s to go fastest, half a tenth faster than Stroll’s earlier headliner. Leclerc got close with his next attempt but could not beat Russell despite setting the best final sector, but Alonso subsequently moved to the top with a 1m31.582s.

Amid the soft-tyre runs, Verstappen and Perez put together some quicker laps on the hard tyre, and thus did not factor among the early squabbling over faster laps.

Both Red Bull drivers aired grievances over their first laps, with Perez reporting a “bad” feeling with his downshifts while Verstappen suggested that the hard tyre felt “terrible” after his first laps on the C1s.

The two switched to soft tyres in the final 20 minutes of the session and immediately began to chase after a headline time. Perez posted a 1m31.248s to chisel Alonso from the top of the times but was outdone by Verstappen’s subsequent lap by two tenths.

Their efforts prompted a flurry of further action on the softs; the Aston Martins began another round of hot laps and although Stroll fell just short of Perez’s second-fastest effort, Alonso fired his way back to the top with a 1m30.965s – stating that he was “connected with the car” after progress with setup.

The McLarens took another go and Lando Norris set the best middle sector, but lost about six tenths in the final part of the lap, which denied him a chance to make his way to the top of the order.

Sainz and Leclerc queued up for Ferrari’s final fast laps of the session and, although Sainz had been able to put his car on top, Leclerc was about a quarter of a second shy of his team-mate and could only manage fourth, behind Alonso and Verstappen.

Norris’ effort was good enough for fifth ahead of Russell, as Oscar Piastri relegated Perez down a further position as the Australian got the seventh-fastest time. Nico Hulkenberg and Stroll completed the top half of the field.

Just 1.558s separated the top and bottom drivers, as Alpine’s Pierre Gasly endured further struggles with the slowest time of the session.

This article was originally published by a www.motorsport.com . Read the Original article here. .

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