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.
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
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
|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|
|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|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:36.939||3.692||16|