Bahrain FP3: Alonso keeps momentum going

Bahrain FP3: Alonso keeps momentum as Red Bulls chase

Bahrain FP3: Alonso keeps momentum goingFernando Alonso continued his strong form, going fastest in FP3 for the 2023 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix a with Max Verstappen chasing him hard in second.

Fernando Alonso is still going strong for Aston Martin in the buildup towards the first qualifying of the 2023 F1 season which for now seems to be a Green/Blue affair unless Ferrari wake up and throw the Red into the mix, not to mention the effect of the cooler track conditions come qualifying.

Alonso’s best time was a 1:32.340 and was only 0.005s faster than Max Verstappen who was only good enough for second.

Sergio Perez was third fastest in the other Red Bull, 0.106s off the pace.

It was interesting to see Alonso head towards the pole starting slot on the grid to do a practice start, which gives an idea about the double F1 Champion’s mindset ahead of qualifying.

Buildup towards FP3

Friday in Bahrain, and FP2 in particular kept everyone scratching their heads thanks to Aston Martin and their AMR23, which seems to be a decent piece of kit.

Ferrari have kept their powder dry up to now, and we should start to see them unleashing more pace today in the buildup towards qualifying, and not to mention Red Bull who usually improve from Friday to Saturday, that’s not to say they are just sandbagging.

Mercedes are in trouble and they are not hiding it, and it would be interesting to see how they salvage their weekend, while Alpine remains an unknown, keeping in mind they had a decent long-run pace from Friday.

The rookies, Oscar Piastri, Logan Sargeant, and Nyck de Vries have kept their cars out of the barriers, not that it’s difficult to do so in Bahrain, but they had some moments nonetheless, as they get to grips with their first weekend in top flight.

Bahrain FP3 Session Highlights

With the track temperatures being in the region of 42C, it was natural that all the drivers took their time before heading out, with Lando Norris being the first to venture and set a time on the Soft tyres.

Norris was followed by the Haas duo, Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton following.

Ferrari’s drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz also head out, as Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso were still taking their time in the pits.

Sainz reported that the seat of his SF-23 was “cracked a bit” which he also encountered in the past season.

After 20 minutes from the session’s start, Alonso and Verstappen head out on the track, the Spaniard going for a flying lap and shooting up to the top the timing screens at that instance.

Verstappen set his first time of the session on the Hard tyres, and was 0.583s off the pace of Alonso on the Softs, keeping in mind the difference between these two compounds in 1s…

Towards the second half of the session, most of the teams set out for some long high-fuel runs, before some final qualifying runs towards the end of the session.

Several drivers took turns at the top of the time screens as the track evolved, with the grip increasing and the lap times improving.

How they finished

As aforementioned Fernando Alonso, was the fastest of all at the end of FP3, 0.005s faster than Max Verstappen and 0.106s fastest than Sergio Perez in third.

Lewis Hamilton set the fourth fastest time of the session, a 1:32.555 and 0.215s off the pace and was chased by Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari, fifth fastest and 0.069s behind the Briton.

George Russell was sixth fastest behind the the Monegasque by a tenth with Lance Stroll slotting in seventh, the Canadian 0.579s off his front-running teammate’s pace.

Carlos Sainz went eighth fastest in the other Ferrari with a 1:32.945 and sixth tenths down from the best time, which makes the Scuderia’s situation quite unclear.

Will it be Aston Martin and Red Bull fighting in the front, with Ferrari fighting Mercedes behind them? Ferrari are expecting a thrilling qualifying!

Oscar Piastri made it into the top ten for McLaren, ninth fastest, and 0.705s away from the benchmark time. Lando Norris was 13th fastest.

Pierre Gasly rounded off the top ten in the Alpine with a 1:33.064, his teammate Esteban Ocon hot on his heels in 11th, 0.052s separating the French pair.

FP3 Official Results