Max Verstappen set the fastest lap of the final practice session at the Bahrain Grand Prix
Windy conditions in Sakhir created problems for drivers in the shorter Saturday session and Romain Grosjean fell foul of the tail-wind in Turn Four, losing the back end and forcing a red-flag stoppage by colliding with the barriers.
The exceptionally high track temperature meant the super-soft tyres were quickly over-heating beyond their optimal operating temperature making it difficult for the teams to extract much value form the session.
Both qualifying and tomorrow’s race are scheduled to start at 6pm local time as the sun sets meaning that both air and track temperatures will drop under the floodlights.
Bahrain Grand Prix free practice 3 results
Sebastian Vettel had dominated running on Friday finishing top of the time-sheets in both sessions after Ferrari promised a significant upgrade on their car after the first two Grands Prix included extra aerodynamics on the exhaust packaging.
The German is tied at the top of the World Drivers’ Championship after winning in Australia and finishing second to Lewis Hamilton in China.
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But the British driver was well down the field in FP1 having had problems with traffic and nearly colliding with Nico Hulkenberg at one point, although the Renault driver was cleared of any wrong-doing by the stewards.
Hamilton got closer to his German rival in the afternoon session but still finished fifth despite being less than three tenths of a second slower – Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen were all sandwiched in between the two drivers.
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But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner claimed both Mercedes and Ferrari were likely to have their engines turned down during FP3.
“I put [Max’s place at the top] down to temperature and undisclosed engine modes,” Horner said.
“Max has strung together a very good lap at the end there.
“Certainly, we’re a lot closer here than we’ve been in the first couple of Grands Prix.”