Bahrain Practice 3: Alonso hottest in the scorching heat

Fernando Alonso top in FP3

Fernando Alonso top in FP3

In scorching heat pushing the upper thirties on thermometers, Fernando Alonso topped the timing screens at the end of the third and final free practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend at Sakhir circuit.

The Ferrari driver, who has two wins at the desert venue and with winning momentum since his top spot finish in China a week earlier, is clearly intent on adding another Bahrain trophy to his cabinet.

Alonso was pushing the limit of the F138 and spun and slid through the gravel traps before claiming the best time of the weekend thus far: 1:33.247.

Next best were the Red Bull duo with Sebastian Vettel second quickest and Mark Webber next up with the third best time. There was little to separate the feuding pair while Vettel’s best was a 0.101 seconds shy of the top time.

Sebastian Vettel pitstop practice

Sebastian Vettel pitstop practice

Both Lotus drivers appear in the hunt this year – last year they were both on the podium – again Kimi Raikkonen got the better of Romain Grosjean. They were fourth and fifth respectively.

Lewis Hamilton split the black and gold cars with his Mercedes fifth quickest, while teammate Nico Rosberg ended the done hour session ninth. Hamilton limped back to the pits at the end of the session informing his team on the radio, “I have a failure on the left-rear.”

Both Force India drivers have been good for the top ten in the previous sessions, but it was the first time this weekend that Adrian Sutil got the better of Paul di Resta, they were seventh and eighth respectively.

Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten in the Sauber

Lewis Hamilton examines the rear wheel on his Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton examines the rear wheel on his Mercedes

Notably out of the to ten were Ferrari’s Felipe Massa with the 11th best time, and both McLaren drivers Jenson Button 12th and Sergio Perez 13th.

Nevertheless the top dozen were covered by less than a second, while half a second covered the top nine which is about as close as it has ever been in Formula 1.

Extreme heat touching the forties, seldom experienced by the Formula 1 circus, has descended on the Gulf region and looks set to hang around to impact on how things pan out in qualifying and in the race – putting a forward a good case to the powers that be that this race may be better placed at an earlier date on the calendar.

Free Practice 3 Result, Bahrain International Circuit – 29 April 2013

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:33.247 12
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:33.348 0.101 15
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:33.380 0.133 19
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:33.446 0.199 21
5 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.455 0.208 19
6 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:33.464 0.217 19
7 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:33.596 0.349 17
8 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:33.700 0.453 15
9 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.764 0.517 19
10 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.922 0.675 17
11 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:33.949 0.702 20
12 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:34.117 0.870 17
13 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:34.282 1.035 18
14 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:34.577 1.330 16
15 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:34.611 1.364 17
16 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:34.678 1.431 16
17 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:34.833 1.586 17
18 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:35.816 2.569 16
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:36.731 3.484 17
20 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:36.939 3.692 16
21 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:37.630 4.383 7
22 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.592 6.345 29