Lewis Hamilton heads into qualifying on the back of topping the final free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
In the 60 minute session in the desert, Lewis posted a 1:34.599 to top the final practice session ahead of Vettel by just seven hundredths of a second.
Going back to yesterday, Hamilton was unable to top either practice session with the Silver Arrows opting not to fly around in FP1, leaving the top spots to the Ferrari’s. But come FP2, Rosberg set the pace under the Bahrain night sky after Hamilton locked up and missed his chance.
Come the final practice session, track conditions were more comparable to the end of FP1 yesterday with the track sitting at 41˚C. However, FP2 came with lower conditions so expect times to improve come qualifying later today.
Nevertheless, the first car to take to the track was the Marussia of Will Stevens. The Brit was closely followed out by Grosjean and Vettel while Button sat in his car after very limited running across Friday.
However Jenson took to the track soon enough and posted the first time of the session with a 1:39.127. But Nasr soon moved one second clear of Button, as the McLaren driver reported he had no rear grip.
During the first & second practice sessions, drivers found themselves running wide or locking up around the track and especially at turns 1, 8 and 10. And this continued into Saturday with Felipe Nasr running off track at turn 11 after carrying too much speed into the corner.
But becoming used to the track conditions again at the sand swept track is one thing. Maldonado found himself running a car shedding parts down the straight between turn three and four as the monkey seat fell from the rear of his Lotus.
Before the piece of Pastor’s car had fallen from his rear, Rosberg had moved three tenths ahead of the Venezuelan on the time sheets. But once the monkey seat had been cleared from the track, the Ferrari’s and Hamilton set about posting lap times on the medium tyres.
This resulted in Rosberg sliding down the order with both Ferrari’s moving ahead to create a four tenths deficit. A deficit Lewis could not move within as he complained of a ‘hot seat’ once more.
Bottas on the other hand could move ahead of Nico as the Williams crept ahead by two hundredths of a second.
But the order at the top would remain Raikkonen leading from Vettel and Bottas for the next few minutes as Kvyat spinning at turn four brought out the red flags.
Daniil had taken turn four as he normally would but as he arrived at the hairpin, the rear stepped out and sent the Red Bull driver into a spin. But as he rolled off the racing line he did not apply the brakes and ended up beached in the gravel & in an unsafe position.
Later on into the session as the temperatures dropped, the soft tyres came on. Firstly with Nico Hulkenberg who moved into P1 on 1:36.421 but the Force India was soon pushed down by the Williams duo of Massa and Bottas along with Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg may have moved into P1 on a 1:34.968 but Lewis managed to hook together a lap moments later to put his team mate four tenths back. Enough of a gap for Vettel to slot into and split the Silver Arrows with his Ferrari just 7 hundredths down on Hamilton.
Ricciardo also found time on the soft tyres to move up to eight place, 1.7 seconds down on Lewis’ best time in FP3. But up until that point, Ricciardo had been sitting in 20th position behind both Marussia’s after a poor session in his Red Bull.
Over the final minutes of the session, most drivers backed off from pushing hard and looking for qualifying simulation laps leaving Lewis Hamilton sitting in P1 with Vettel second and Rosberg third.
Kvyat managed to return to the track and take the chequered flag but only managed to go P12 on his timed lap.
Button had a much improved practice session to finish in 11th place, 1.8 seconds down on Lewis’ time. Jenson also managed to complete 14 laps, three more than Fernando Alonso managed in the other McLaren.