Fernando Alonso is also the man to beat during the third free practice. The Aston Martin driver was the fastest in Bahrain with a 1:32.340, making him only five thousandths faster than Max Verstappen. Nyck de Vries, on the other hand, cannot be satisfied with a last place.
Lando Norris was first and for a few minutes alone on track for the final training session of the weekend. After four minutes, the McLaren driver was followed by Nico Hülkenberg, after which Norris recorded a 1:34.633 on the softs. Hülkenberg’s first lap time was one and a half seconds slower. It was not a flawless lap and was also driven on the medium tires.
Hamilton for the Ferraris, first sign from Aston Martin
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were the first of the top teams to go out and did so with 51 minutes remaining. They were soon followed by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who didn’t have a great day on Friday with a last and fourteenth place in the first two practice sessions. The fastest time of these four men was eventually Hamilton with a 1:33.508, while Sainz aborted his first attempt.
The Spaniard did move into P2 one lap later with a time fifteen thousandths slower than Hamilton’s. Sainz scored two purple sectors, but then lost time in the last part. With 42 minutes left on the clock we saw the first of the Aston Martins turn on. Stroll was well underway and set the fifth fastest time. The Canadian lost time, especially in the second sector, namely more than four tenths. In the end, the gap to Hamilton was almost seven tenths.
After this it was Leclerc’s turn to make another attempt. In the first sector he was half a tenth faster than Hamilton and in sector two even 0.175s faster. His lap time was a 1:33.567. Like Sainz, Leclerc is losing time in the third sector compared to the seven-time world champion. When the Ferrari driver had completed his lap, the Red Bull men went out for the first time, but on the hards.
Alonso immediately reports to the front, Red Bull with an alternative strategy
Alonso had already taken to the track just before and sat down with 38 minutes to go. He immediately went two and a half tenths faster than Hamilton in sector one and the Spaniard was also much faster in the second sector – half a second even. In the end, the Aston Martin veteran set a 1:33.121, which was just under four tenths faster than the lap of his former McLaren teammate.
Verstappen was not slow at all on the hards. For example, he was just under six tenths slower than Alonso and Sergio Pérez was in turn three tenths slower than his teammate, who occupied fifth place. The Dutchman did complain about a lack of grip. Later we saw De Vries record a lap time for the first time. This was good enough for P16, but more than 1.8 seconds slower than Alonso’s fastest time.
With 17 minutes remaining, Guanyu surprised Zhou with the second fastest time, which was only sixty-thousandths slower than Alonso’s fastest time. Stroll then even moved into first place with a 1:32.919. So it was suddenly a one-two for Aston Martin on the early Saturday afternoon. That ended up taking five minutes. Hamilton and Russell took the first two spots from Stroll and Alonso with eleven minutes to go. The fastest time became a 1:32.555.
Verstappen fastest, but Alonso even faster
Verstappen took to the track on softs with only ten minutes to go. In sector one, the Dutchman was a few thousandths slower than Hamilton, but in sector two almost three tenths faster. In the end, the two-time world champion recorded a 1:32.345 and moved into P1 – but not for long, as Alonso then subsided by five thousandths. Later Pérez went to P3 on the softs with a 1:32.446.
At the end of the session, Sainz and Leclerc sat down for a while and the Ferrari drivers also improved considerably, as they had fallen back outside the top ten. Sainz crossed the line first with a time good enough for P7, after which Leclerc again and like his teammate lost a lot of time in the last sector. The Monegask moved up to P5 and was three-tenths slower than Alonso.
Speaking of the Spaniard, he finishes another training session this weekend as fastest. Alonso was only five thousandths of a second faster than Verstappen, who beats teammate Pérez. Hamilton can look back with satisfaction on his fourth place, while De Vries can be less happy with a last place. He was 1.7 seconds slower than Alonso.
Results third free practice F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain 2023
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