Bahrain GP: Red Bull looking strong in FP3 as Mercedes challenge falters

Max Verstappen topped final practice for the Bahrain GP despite all Mercedes could throw at him, while Alex Albon recovered well from his crash yesterday.

Verstappen led for most of the session, and held off the Mercedes in the final qualifying simulation runs to finish top by three and a half tenths from Lewis Hamilton.

The session also saw more running on the medium tyres, ahead of a race that could stray from the traditional one-stop affairs that we’ve seen this season.

Bottas struggled to get on top of the car but ended just a tenth behind his teammate, with the team potentially suffering from running Pirelli’s 2021 tyres for a large chunk of yesterday.

Hamilton was suffering an electrical issue and attempted to go out for final run before qualifying, but just missed the cut and the Brit had to pull up at the end of the pit lane.

Bahrain GP: Lewis Hamilton tops stop-start FP2

Bahrain GP: Mercedes fastest in FP1

F1 championship standings

After slow start – only Raikkonen and the two Williams set times in the first third of the session – a plethora of cars headed out onto track on new soft tyres, with Sergio Perez topping that group of midfield runners.

Midway through the session, most runners switched onto the medium tyres, likely looking to gather more data on it at a track with heavy tyre wear.

The two-stop strategy looks to be the optimal strategy for race day, which will likely see mean more drivers looking to get through Q2 on the medium tyre.

Alex Albon was fourth, the only other driver within a second of Verstappen, while Carlos Sainz rounded out the top five of an FP3 session that looks very promising for McLaren.

Despite early pace from Racing Point, the pink panthers only just made the top ten while the other McLaren of Carlos Sainz was seventh, sandwiching Pierre Gasly.

Renault were just outside the top ten and didn’t really feature over the session, while Daniil Kvyat was eigth in a good morning for AlphaTauri – and more bad news for Renault if the Italian team is competitive.

The star of last years’ Bahrain GP was down in lowly 15th – Charles Leclerc two places behind last round’s podium-sitter Sebastian Vettel in what looks to be a difficult track for Ferrari.