Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen topped a tricky final practice session ahead of the Red Bull duo in 2nd and 3rd. The Iceman topped yesterday’s FP2 session and was on form once again; the only driver to break the 1m 29s barrier. He was half a second ahead of the Red Bull’s; Dutchman Max Verstappen leading Aussie Daniel Ricciardo.
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton struggled all session and could only manage 4th, 8 tenths behind Raikkonen. In addition to his problems, the quadruple world champion will take a 5-place grid penalty from wherever he qualifies due to a gearbox change.
The other Ferrari and championship leader Sebastian Vettel ended the session in 5th. Appearing to have concerns heading into Qualifying, the sidepod of the SF71-H came loose during the session. Despite an apparent fix, the German precautionarily ended the session early due to a small electrical issue.
Valtteri Bottas was 6th fastest ahead of the Renault pair; Nico Hulkenberg leading Carlos Sainz. Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly continued his surprising pace, finishing 9th ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. The Frenchman’s team-mate Brendon Hartley finished 11th.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon edged out his team-mate Sergio Perez as they finished 13th and 14th respectively. The Haas team, hoping to bounce back after their Australian heartbreak, finished 12th and 15th with Romain Grosjean leading Kevin Magnussen.
Marcus Ericsson finished an impressive 16th place for the Sauber Alfa Romeo team, ahead of the second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne in 17th and his teammate Charles Leclerc close behind in 18th.
Williams had a tough and worrying session as Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll locked out the back row of the grid; the Russian rookie 4 tenths ahead of his Canadian teammate. Both drivers were over 2.5 seconds off Kimi Raikkonen’s pace.
The blistering heat and wind speed caught out many drivers, including Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo, who ran wide into the last corner and locked up throughout the session. As the sun sets and conditions change for qualifying, Formula 1 is set for a thrilling duel in the desert in Bahrain.