Kimi Raikkonen leads Red Bulls in final practice
Bahrain Grand Prix - FP3

Kimi Raikkonen leads Red Bulls in final practice

Kimi Raikkonen kept Ferrari at the top of the timesheets during final practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix as both Mercedes drivers struggled in the heat of the afternoon sun.

Raikkonen was 0.525s clear of Max Verstappen in second, holding a massive 0.425s advantage over the Red Bull in the first sector alone, with much more slender margins of 0.050s in sectors two and three. The advantage in sector one, which is made up of two long straights and slow speed corners, suggests Ferrari's turbo-hybrid engine was running in a higher engine mode than its rivals, but Raikkonen's pace was impressive nonetheless.

Verstappen was just 0.059s faster than teammate Daniel Ricciardo in third, who was quicker than the Dutchman in sector one but lost time to him in sector two. Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest after a scrappy lap in which he ran wide at Turn 10 and Turn 14, losing 0.447s to Raikkonen in the middle sector alone. His race engineer informed him that the Ferrari was running in a more powerful engine mode according to the pit wall's GPS data, but there was no doubt Hamilton left plenty of lap time on the table in the corners as well.

Sebastian Vettel was fifth fastest after a troubled session in the No.5 Ferrari. On his first run a piece of bodywork attached to the sidepod came loose and he had to return to the pits for repairs. Once he headed out again he complained of poor drivability through Turns 11 and 12 and again returned to the pits where he remained for the rest of the session.

Valtteri Bottas was sixth fastest after messing up his quick lap with a huge lock-up on the run down to Turn 1. Despite the mistake he went on to set a time that was just 0.090s off teammate Hamilton, suggesting the Mercedes simply isn't as fast as expected this weekend.

Renault finished the session as the fourth best team with Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz split by 0.056s in seventh and eighth place. They were roughly 0.3s clear of Pierre Gasly, who continued to impress in his Honda-powered Toro Rosso ahead of Fernando Alonso in tenth. The McLaren was just 0.007s slower than Gasly while holding a 0.015s advantage over the second Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley in 11th.

The two Haas drivers were 12th and 15th, split by the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez. Marcus Ericsson finished 16th in the Sauber ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne's McLaren and teammate Charles Leclerc. The two Williams of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll ended the session in 19th and 20th.

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