April 5th, 2014 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Lewis Hamilton led the third Mercedes 1-2 of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, topping the times ahead of his team-mate Nico Rosberg in the third and final practice session for Sunday's race. Best-of-the-rest was Sergio Perez for Force India.
It was no surprise that Mercedes were quickest in the session - they've been quickest all season. What was surprising was the extent to which Red Bull struggled. Sebastian Vettel spun off after losing the back end of his Red Bull on the exit of turn two. He came to a stop in the gravel trap and was unable to keep his engine running, which meant his session was over before he'd had a chance to do a soft-tyre run. Ricciardo took part in the whole session, but was only 13th fastest, 1.8 seconds slower than the leading Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.
If the results of FP3 are anything to go by, qualifying will be thoroughly dominated by Mercedes-powered teams. The top six cars in the session - those of Hamilton, Rosberg, Perez, Bottas, Massa and Button - were all propelled by Mercedes power. Nico Hulkenberg in eighth for Force India made it seven out of the top ten for the Mercedes power unit. The other three places went to the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen (seventh and tenth respectively) and the Renault-powered Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat in ninth place.
While Mercdes should dominate qualifying barring any technical issues or major driver errors, the battle for third on the grid looks like it will be quite competitve. Force India, Williams and McLaren are all looking very quick and very close together. Ferrari are not too far behind and Red Bull can never be counted out, despite their poor showing in FP3.
Qualifying begins at 18:00 local time in Bahrain.
Full results from FP3:
|3||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:35.868||0.544||10|
|8||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:36.455||1.131||11|
|9||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:36.680||1.356||16|
|12||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:37.030||1.706||11|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:37.119||1.795||11|
|21||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:39.225||3.901||8|