Fernando Alonso was the first to be surprised to see that his Aston Martin also finished the third free practice session of the Bahrain GP in front of everyone. The Spaniard confirmed that his time in yesterday’s free practice was by no means accidental and the AMR23 is a serious candidate for this afternoon’s pole position. Fernando achieved a 1’32″340 with the soft tyres: the time is of little significance because it was 40 degrees on the asphalt and qualifying will be held with 13-14 degrees less.
Max Verstappen finished second only 5 thousandths behind Alonso with the Red Bull RB19 forced to be slightly higher in order not to spoil the bottom line. The world champion is followed by his team mate, Sergio Perez who is one tenth behind the “verdona”. The Milton Keynes team didn’t give much weight to this round, also working on a seven-lap mini long run with hard tyres: Red Bull is thinking of doing a race with only one pit stop in an appointment that usually asks two.
Those who think that the world champion team is in slight difficulty suffering an unexpected supremacy of Aston Martin which in the heat seemed to be the most balanced car are wrong. At the end of the session, the FIA took a petrol sample on the Mexican’s RB19 to carry out analyzes on fuel compliance.
In fourth place we find the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton with 1’32″555: Lewis reduced the gap compared to yesterday by equipping himself with a medium-load spoon wing, while George Russell chose the one used in the tests with greater incidence. The Englishman is only sixth, a tenth and a half behind the seven-times world champion.It is surprising that the Brackley team is still in the comparative tests in FP3, but the W14 seemed less in difficulty than yesterday: perhaps some engine mappings have already been used more thrusts.
Ferrari did not shine: Charles Leclerc is fifth immediately behind Hamilton’s black arrow. The Monegasque didn’t seem worried, a sign that the Cavallino’s 066/7 is still rather deflated. Evidently in Maranello they believe in the potential of the SF-23 and have not looked for verifications since the times. At least we hope so.
If Charles seems fine, Carlos Sainz still seems to be suffering in the qualifying simulation: the Spaniard leaves four tenths to his color mate and settles in an eighth place which is certainly not in line with the Scuderia’s expectations.
Positive performance by Lance Stroll with the second AMR23: it is true that the Canadian is over half a second behind Alonso, but he has just come back after a crash on his bicycle which caused fractures in his wrists. Stroll seems to be getting better with each passing day, we’ll see where he places in qualifying, while there are more doubts about durability in the race.
The top 10 is closed by Oscar Piastri who tried to go for a lap with the McLaren, doing better than Lando Norris stuck in 13th position. Pierre Gasly is tenth with the Alpine just 52 thousandths faster than Esteban Ocon: the A523 had many modifications and the Enstone team probably still needs some set-up work.
Between the two papaya cars there is Guanyu Zhou with the Alfa Romeo: the Chinese wants to earn the role of reference driver in Hinwil given that Valtteri Bottas did not go beyond 17th place with the second C43, preceded by the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda.
The two Haas, who have dedicated a lot of time to a long run on the medium tyres, proceed together with Kevin Magnussen ahead of Nico Hulkenberg by a hair’s breadth. Rookie Logan Sargeant put his cards on the Williams table and gave two tenths to Alexander Albon. The two FW45s are not last: the insane position is left to Nyck De Vries in trouble with the AlphaTauri. The Faenza car doesn’t seem to have solved last year’s problems…
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