F1 Bahrain GP: Verstappen tops FP3 ahead of both Mercedes

Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the top spot in final practice for Formula 1's 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, with Valtteri Bottas in third

F1 Bahrain GP: Verstappen tops FP3 ahead of both Mercedes

Under clearer skies than Friday's FP1, the 60-minute final session got off to a fairly lifeless start, with most cars remaining in their garages for the opening 20 minutes.

Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen set the first timed lap of the session at the eight minute mark, a 1m31.247s that stood as the fastest time for nearly 15 minutes as the Finn continued to lap before he was joined by the two Williams cars.

When most of the rest of the pack eventually emerged, Raikkonen's team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi went quicker with a 1m31.025s before a flurry of faster times were set.

Lando Norris briefly headed the times with a 1m30.427s, before Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez improved - with the Racing Point driver lowering the P1 benchmark to a 1m30.159s.

A few minutes later all of the cars had appeared for the first time - no drivers bothered with the medium or hard tyres that are set to be much better race compounds compared to the softs, which the drivers have eight sets each compared to just two mediums and three hards.

Verstappen moved to the top of times just before 25 minutes had been completed with a 1m29.617s, while Mercedes only took second and 10th on its opening runs with Hamilton and Bottas.

Just past the halfway point, Verstappen went quicker again with a 1m29.600s, on a lap where the top plane of his rear wing was flexing dramatically with the DRS opening activated.

The Red Bull driver completed his run, and his team were seen working on the rear wing when he returned to the garage.

At the start of the final 15 minutes, Mercedes, which sacrificed any set-up work on Friday to try and get a better understanding of the prototype 2021 tyres the teams had to run yesterday, had both its drivers improve on its final runs.

Bottas moved to the top of the times with a 1m28.721s, with the then fastest times in all three sectors, before Hamilton usurped him with a 1m28.618s - gaining time as the lap went on to end up 0.103s ahead.

But both were ultimately shuffled down by Verstappen, who's rear wing continued to flex on his final run, as he blitzed the opening two sectors and set a personal best in the final segment to go quickest with a 1m28.355s - 0.263s quicker than Hamilton's time.

Albon ended up fourth ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr and Gasly, with Lando Norris seventh in the second McLaren.

Daniil Kvyat was eighth for AlphaTauri, ahead of Racing Point pair Lance Stroll and Perez.

The Ferrari drivers finished 13th and 15th, with Sebastian Vettel ahead of Charles Leclerc, who so nearly won the 2019 race in Bahrain.

Hamilton's session had a somewhat unusual end as he was forced to stop at the end of the pitlane in the closing moments as the exit light turned red, which meant his mechanics had to run down from the Mercedes garage to recover his W11.

Bahrain Grand Prix - FP3 results

Pos Driver Car Gap
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1m28.355s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.263s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.366s
4 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 0.663s
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1.100s
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1.117s
7 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1.212s
8 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1.230s
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1.305s
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 1.317s
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.329s
12 Esteban Ocon Renault 1.336s
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1.504s
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1.615s
15 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1.828s
16 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 2.204s
17 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 2.297s
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 2.404s
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 2.468s
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 2.562s
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