F1 Test Day 3 Afternoon Session | Pérez sets the tone in Bahrain, Mercedes and Ferrari have to work

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Sergio Pérez finished the afternoon session of the third and final day of testing in Bahrain with the fastest time. The Red Bull driver set a 1:30.305 on the C4 tire and was more than three tenths faster than Lewis Hamilton on the C5 tire. This time was also immediately faster than the pole time of last season. In addition, it was noticeable that Carlos Sainz was unable to improve Charles Leclerc’s fastest time in the morning.

There were seven driver changes in the afternoon session. Only Pérez, Alexander Albon and Valtteri Bottas were allowed to return to their seats from the morning. With the switch between Nyck de Vries and Yuki Tsunoda, there were no more Dutch people on the track for the final part of these test days. Kevin Magnussen emerged first in the important final session, followed by Sainz and Lando Norris.

It was therefore the honor of Magnussen to set the first time of this afternoon session, and the Haas driver does so with a time of 1:35.522. At that time that was good for ninth place. Then Hamilton came out on track, but the Briton opened in a 1:39.339. Actually, the conclusion is that nobody goes really fast, but that will change when the sun goes down.

Hamilton has his moments

What was particularly striking at the start of the session is that Hamilton’s W14 continues to have its moments. The Mercedes driver’s car got out a few times and in the last corner he also briefly went off the track. This also happened in the previous two test days in Bahrain. Just before the start of the new season, the German team does not have a problem-free car.

A first serious time was set by Sainz about an hour and a half after the start of the session. With a 1:31.162, the Spaniard came close to the time that Leclerc had set in the morning. It was a tenth off, but Sainz did have a purple last sector. Not much later there was also a small bright spot at Mercedes, where Hamilton managed to climb up to sixth place with a 1:32.147.

From that moment on, the tension started to increase, because the sun slowly set. First of all, it was Sainz who made an attempt to beat Leclerc’s time, but again he just fell short, about twelve thousandths. Hamilton, who was still not completely comfortable on the track, also managed to improve his time. Pérez also looked set for a better time on the C4 tyre, but was hampered by Sainz in sector three.

Switch between Pérez and Hamilton

With over an hour left in this session, Hamilton decided to have the C5 tire fitted to his car. With that, the Mercedes driver immediately jumped to first place with a lap time of 1:30.781. Still, Pérez manages to go one step faster than Hamilton on the C4 tyre. The Mexican recorded a 1:30.616, more than one and a half tenths faster. While Hamilton managed to improve some time again, Pérez also went faster again by recording a 1:30.305. The gap was about three-tenths.

In the meantime, Bottas managed to move into the top three, with half an hour left on the clock. The Finn set a time of 1:30.827 on the C5 tyre, half a second slower than Pérez. In the last fifteen minutes, a virtual safety car came in, followed by a red flag. The session ended with a formation lap and a number of test starts. As a result, there was no longer any threat to Red Bull’s fastest time.

Although Hamilton managed to finish the test days in second, Mercedes will have some concerns with the W14. Sainz also couldn’t get close to Pérez’s time with the Ferrari. In fact, his time remained slower than Leclerc’s previous time in the morning. What the top teams will be particularly concerned about is the speed Red Bull has shown over the past three days. The first race weekend is scheduled for a week in Bahrain.

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