Bahrain GP FP3: Sainz fastest, Red Bull show some pace

BahrainGP FP3: Sainz fastest, Red Bull show some pace

Bahrain GP FP3: Sainz fastest, Red Bull show some pace

Carlos Sainz topped the final practice session for the 2024 Formula 1 Bahrain GP, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen in third.

The main takeaway from FP3 is that the first qualifying session of the 2024 F1 season is going to be a thrilling one and while Red Bull partially showed their pace, the chasing pack seem to be in a good position.

Sainz showed that Ferrari’s speed from pre-season testing was genuine on one lap, and Alonso in second gave some hope for Aston Martin fans after a vague showing in pre-season.

As for Verstappen, he was third fastest after just one attempt on the Softs as Red Bull spent the earlier part of FP3 on the Hards also seemingly not running the power unit fully, keeping in mind the Dutchman’s lap was affected by some traffic early on.

The top three were within 0.238s of each other.

Charles Leclerc was fourth fastest with Lando Norris fifth. However, worryingly for the Briton, he had to take a new control electronics and energy store in his MCL38. Reliability woes in the horizon for McLaren? Or trouble for Mercedes power units?

Buildup towards FP3

Bahrain GP FP3: Sainz fastest, Red Bull show some pace

As we edge a step closer towards finding out the pecking order of the 2024 F1 grid, FP1 and FP2 on Thursday sprung some surprises, yes we mean Lewis Hamilton and  George Russell finishing the second practice first and second for Mercedes.

And while it seems the eight-time Constructors’ Champions have been reportedly doing some showboating with engines dialed up, while Red Bull and Verstappen tuned down the Honda power unit, Mercedes are nevertheless in a better position than what pre-season testing suggested.

So expect to see the true RB20 pace today – we saw its strong race pace yesterday – and hopefully we get a glimpse of that in FP3, but what we can be sure of – qualifying is going to be mega later today in Bahrain.

Ferrari seem to be in a good place, but McLaren are still a question mark, while Aston Martin do not seem to be far off.

Other than that, and shortly after we thought the Christian Horner saga was over, we got the shocking revelation of the what are the alleged investigation material/evidence which ignited the controversy one again.

But for now let’s try to focus on what is important… racing!

Bahrain FP3 session highlights

The lower-than-usual temperatures remained for the second day of running in Bahrain, with ambient temperatures of 20 degrees centigrade at the start of FP3, while track temperature was 34. The conditions remained windy albeit less than those on Thursday.

The teams and drivers took their time getting out on track it was almost ten minutes before any track action commenced, Hamilton and Russell the first out as teams were looking to save tyres and power unit life, given that qualifying will take place in very different conditions than FP3 – later in the afternoon after sunset.

Hamilton set the first time of the session, 1:32.733 on Soft tyres over two seconds slower than his FP2-topping-time on Thursday.

With 15 minute gone more drivers started joining the action Sainz posting the second time behind Hamilton, while Leclerc went top of the timing screens from the first attempt, all on Softs.

Kevin Magnussen soon tops the screens, 20 minutes into the session, only for Stroll to bump him to second. Norris went third fastest from the first attempt. Sergio Perez was seventh on the Hards.

Soon Russell goes fastest by half a second on Soft tyres, while Verstappen, going out on Hards for his first timed lap good for 12th and over one and a half seconds off Russell’s time, a 1:31.821.

Alonso soon betters Russell by over two tenths on Softs in his first hot lap of FP3 around Sakhir Circuit, as the remaining drivers.

30 minutes into the session the top ten were: Alonso – Russell – Leclerc – Sainz – Lance Stroll – Magnussen – Alex Albon – Norris – Hamilton – Daniel Ricciardo.

With first runs in, the cars returned to their respective garages for setup and tyre changes getting ready for another outing.

32 minutes into FP3, Hamilton locked his brakes heavily going into Turn 10, but kept going after a brief run in the run-off area.

15 minutes from the end, Perez showed the first glimpse of Red Bull’s pace, topping the screens on Softs, over three tenths faster than Alonso.

Verstappen soon follows, also on Softs, beating his teammate’s time by two tenths, the Bulls smartly doing their fast runs later wen the track conditions were better.

However, Alonso soon goes fastest again, less than a tenth clear of Verstappen. Alonso was informed about his best time.

He responded: “Another step better, I’m connected with the car, it’s good.”

Norris soon improves and goes third fastest, less a tenth and a half slower than Alonso. But Sainz soon posts the fastest time, five minutes from the end.

Practice starts concluded the session.

How they finished

Sainz posted a 1:30.824 to go fastest in FP3, 0.141s faster than Alonso in second who was in turn 0.097s faster than Verstappen in third.

Leclerc was fourth fastest in the #16 Ferrari, 0.270s off the pace of his teammate with Norris fifth fastest with a 1:31.118.

Russell was sixth fastest in the Mercedes, 0.366s off the pace, while Hamilton who topped FP2, was 12th fastest  the end, the Mercs not showing the same performance from yesterday.

Oscar Piastri was seventh fastest in the McLaren with a 1:31.210, and was 0.038s ahead of Perez, eighth in the Red Bull.

Nico Hulkenberg delivered a decent lap to go ninth fastest, with Stroll rounding up the top ten.

Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda were 11th and 13th respectively, while the Alpines’ troubles continued, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly 18th and 20th respectively.

Bahrain FP3 Classification