Sainz leads F1 FP3 at Bahrain GP ahead of Alonso and Verstappen

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Lewis Hamilton headed out to start Friday’s track action in Bahrain 10 minutes into the session. FP3 on a Friday sets the time before qualifying, as the race this weekend will be held on Saturday.

The British driver set a first time of 1:32.733 with the softest compound of the weekend, recalling that the record lap time of the weekend so far, achieved by the Brit himself, a 1:30.374 in FP2.

When the Ferrari drivers headed out the pits, Charles Leclerc managed to bag first place on the same compound as the 7-time world champion, while Carlos Sainz slotted into third. Fast laps from Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Albon and Stroll changed the order in the table as the drivers pumped in personal bests.

The first Red Bull driver to go out on track was Sergio Pérez on the white Pirellis, the C1s this weekend. This only happened after the first 15 minutes of the session. His attempt placed him seventh, second to last among the times set by then.

Max Verstappen went out on track copying the Mexican, looking for the optimal Bahrain race strategy that usually demands a lot from the tyres. The winning plan that allowed the Dutchman to win last year meant he started the race with the soft tire and finished in the hardest compound, in a 2-stop strategy that will most likely repeat itself this weekend.

As the clock ticked halfway in the session, Fernando Alonso led the way with softs, setting a 1.31:582, purple in the first two sectors of the track. Just 0.239s behind stood George Russell, and completing the top 5 were the two Ferraris and Lance Stroll, the Canadian 0.700s behind his teammate.

When the clock read 15 minutes to end the session, the drivers went out to score their last attempts for a flying lap ahead of Qualifying, just by then was the time that the Red Bulls put on the soft compound.

Sergio Perez set purple sectors in 1 and 2 and went first ahead of Fernando Alonso, only before Max Verstappen went fastest with a time of 1:31.062. Noting the Red Bulls weren’t able to log a purple third sector.

Fernando Alonso went fastest again with a 1:30.965 but ultimately, Carlos Sainz took the top spot on the timesheet clocking a 1:30.824. Lando Norris should have been fastest but a mistake at the final corner cost him a chunk of time.

The final Top 10 was completed by Verstappen in third, then Leclerc, Norris, Russell, Piastri, Perez, Hulkenberg and Stroll. Encouraging a very close and even qualifying, in what will be the first real picture of the truest grid order.

The session times were completed by Daniel Ricciardo in 11th, followed by Lewis Hamilton, Tsunoda, Magnussen, Albon, Zhou Guanyu, Bottas, Ocon, Sargeant and Gasly.

Qualifying is set to start at 7 pm local time.