After almost 45 minutes of a slow-burner, FP3 came alive after Romain Grosjean’s red flag with Ferrari and Mercedes trading blows at the front only for Max Verstappen to pip them all.
On another hot afternoon at the Sakhir circuit, with reinforced T-wings at Mercedes and software glitches resolved at Ferrari, final practice got off to a slow start with only 15 of the 20 drivers venturing out of their respective garages within the first third of the session. And of those only three – led by Carlos Sainz – posted lap times.
The action heated up midway through the 60-minute session as more drivers ventured out with Valtteri Bottas, his W08 sporting a T-wing, the first of the big three teams out on the supersoft tyres. He was a full second up through the second sector but lost it in the final corner – as others had – in the blustery wind. He finished three seconds down.
Instead it was Max Verstappen who was the first of the big boys to go quickest with a 1:33.249 on the soft tyres while Ferrari’s run ended before it began as Romain Grosjean crashed his Haas at the exit of Turn 4.
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The Frenchman lost the back end through Turn 4 and slid across the track before hitting the barrier and losing the front wing. Although the session was red flagged, he kept the car going and returned to the Haas garage.
Kimi Raikkonen took over at the front on the supersoft tyres but lost out to Bottas who in turn was beaten by Sebastian Vettel. The Ferrari driver’s 1:32.750 was 0.004s quicker than the Mercedes driver.
It was, however, Verstappen who came through to steal the show with a late 1:32.194 while Lewis Hamilton went second, 0.110s down. Vettel finished third, 0.556s off the pace.
Bottas was fourth ahead of Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo – who only put in one timed run, Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat.
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:32.194
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.304 0.110
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:32.750 0.556
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.754 0.560
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:32.785 0.591
6 Felipe Massa Williams 1:32.801 0.607
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:32.809 0.615
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Sport 1:32.933 0.739
9 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:33.604 1.410
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:33.744 1.550
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:33.916 1.722
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:33.922 1.728
13 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:33.947 1.753
14 Lance Stroll Williams 1:33.965 1.771
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:34.027 1.833
16 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:34.064 1.870
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:34.198 2.004
18 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:34.205 2.011
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:34.268 2.074
20 Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport 1:34.417 2.223