Bahrain Grand Prix: Carlos Sainz leads a Spanish 1-2 in FP3 ahead of Max Verstappen

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz putting in the laps in the Ferrari.

Carlos Sainz set the pace in Bahrain.

Carlos Sainz stole the show, and the top spot on the timesheet, from Fernando Alonso with a late lap in Friday’s final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Although it was clear from their very first lap on the soft Pirellis that Red Bull had ditched Thursday’s sandbags, Verstappen and Sergio Perez immediately going 1-2, it was a Spanish 1-2 as Sainz clocked a 1:30.824 to beat Alonso by a tenth of a second.

Max Verstappen was third ahead of Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and George Russell.

Carlos Sainz beats Fernando Alonso to P1 in final practice

Although they had just one hour to run before qualifying, when the light went green on FP3 the drivers stayed in their garages with no immediate takers. It wasn’t until 10 minutes into the session that Lewis Hamilton left the Mercedes garage on a set of soft Pirellis, clocking a 1:32.7.

Five minutes later the Ferraris ventured out, Charles Leclerc went quickest and the track action finally began to heat up as the rest of the field left the pits.

Sergio Perez, interestingly out on hard tyres, was hit with a case of Max Verstappen’s upshift problems, saying it was “nasty”. He went P8, a second behind the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll. Verstappen, also on the white-walled Pirellis, was two-tenths up on his team-mate.

A P1 from George Russell, a Turn 4 snap for Lando Norris, and then a P1 for Fernando Alonso followed. The Aston Martin driver lowered the benchmark to a 1:31.582. recommends

Rivals question Red Bull’s ‘sandbag’ count after unexpected practice result

Innovative Mercedes catch the eye after impressive Bahrain practice display

Norris, a second down on Alonso, returned to the pits for a front suspension change, Carlos Sainz had ballast added to his Ferrari, and the last two drivers, the Alpine team-mates, put in their first run of the day.

Only the Red Bulls ran the hard tyres in the first 30 minutes with Verstappen P14, 1.4s down on Alonso, and Perez 19th.

Venturing out for a second run while Mercedes worked on his team-mate Hamilton’s brakes, Russell stayed second behind Alonso, 0.2s down.

Alex Albon and Zhou Guanyu were the first to bolt on a new set of softs and go for an all-out qualifying simulation, Perez and Verstappen swapping to the softs. Perez hit the front with a 1:31.2, but was pipped by Verstappen by 0.186s. Zhou jumped to fifth and Albon P7 but they tumbled as more drivers headed out, including Alonso.

The double World Champion shot through to the top of the timesheet with a 1:30.965. He told Aston Martin: “I’m connected with the car, it’s good.”

However, his stint in P1 was short-lived as Sainz put in a late lap to go quickest with a 1:30.824, 0.141s up on Alonso with Verstappen third.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2024: FP3 Times

1 Carlos SAINZ 1:30.824
2 Fernando ALONSO +0.141
3 Max VERSTAPPEN +0.238
4 Charles LECLERC +0.270
5 Lando NORRIS +0.294
6 George RUSSELL +0.366
7 Oscar PIASTRI +0.386
8 Sergio PEREZ +0.424
9 Nico HULKENBERG +0.454
10 Lance STROLL +0.572
11 Daniel RICCIARDO +0.625
12 Lewis HAMILTON +0.628
13 Yuki TSUNODA +0.807
14 Kevin MAGNUSSEN +0.847
15 Alexander ALBON +1.141
16 Guanyu ZHOU +1.176
17 Valtteri BOTTAS +1.272
18 Esteban OCON +1.300
19 Logan SARGEANT +1.301
20 Pierre GASLY +1.558

Read next: Former F1 driver names F1’s ‘problem child’ and his one ‘really great positive’