Sakhir GP: Max Verstappen leads third training session with George Russell seventh

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Max Verstappen turns on turn two during practice at the Sakhir GP, but ended up setting the tone.

Max Verstappen turns on turn two during practice at the Sakhir GP, but ended up setting the tone.

Max Verstappen propelled Red Bull into contention ahead of Sakhir’s GP qualifying by beating Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas with the fastest time in final practice, as Friday pace leader George Russell slipped to seventh.

Verstappen set Bottas’ pace by 0.206s with a fastest lap of 54.064s on Bahrain’s fast outer loop, although the Mercedes driver would have been closer without error on the last corner.

Verstappen and Red Bull are yet to claim pole position this season, but Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson believes they are right in the race ahead of qualifying, which starts at 5 p.m. on Sky Sports F1.

“Max can certainly smell blood, can’t he?” He knows it could be his pole day, ”Davidson said.

Martin Brundle added: “Max is looking over the car. But let’s wait and see when it really matters. ”

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Martin Brundle is on track to analyze turn three on the Bahrain International Circuit.

Martin Brundle is on track to analyze turn three on the Bahrain International Circuit.

At the start of his second day in Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, Russell slipped from the lead of the timesheet to seventh – four tenths behind teammate Bottas and six tenths behind Verstappen.

Russell had hinted Friday night that his positions on Day 1 were “misleading”, but he will aim to move up the qualifying order by replacing Lewis Hamilton.

In 36 races at Williams, Russell has never been overqualified by a teammate – but Bottas will certainly provide him with the toughest test yet.

4:24
Exclusively with Sky Sports F1, Romain Grosjean remembers his crash defying the death of the Bahrain GP last Sunday.

Exclusively with Sky Sports F1, Romain Grosjean remembers his crash defying the death of the Bahrain GP last Sunday.

Unusually, five different teams have occupied the top five positions on the timesheet.

With little to choose from across the grid on such a short lap, Pierre Gasly was an excellent third for AlphaTauri with Esteban Ocon fourth for Renault and Lando Norris fifth for McLaren.

Alex Albon was sixth in the second Red Bull, but his best time of the session came on the slower middle tires while his rivals posted their best on the faster ones.

Ferrari was once again absent from the top 10 on a power sensitive track that did not favor their car. And Sebastian Vettel’s mechanics face a race against time to get his car ready for qualifying due to a precautionary engine change.

Charles Leclerc, their lead rider in 13th place, took off late in the session. Pacesetter Verstappen was also a spinner, completing a lap on turn two in an early race when he showed a promising pace on the hard tires.

At the back of the field, debutants Pietro Fittipaldi (Haas) and Jack Aitken (Williams) continued their preparations for their very first F1 qualifying sessions. Although Fittipaldi will start at the rear due to engine changes, Aitken has come close to Nicholas Latifi’s pace in the Williams.

Sakhir GP Practice Three Timesheet

Chauffeur Team Time
1) Max Verstappen Red Bull 54,064
2) Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0,206
3) Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +0,363
4) Esteban Ocon Renault +0,389
5) Lando Norris McLaren +0,542
6) Alexandre Albon Red Bull +0,565
7) George Russell Mercedes +0,600
8) Sergio Perez Race point +0,614
9) spear walk Race point +0,629
10) Carlos Sainz McLaren +0,656
11) Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo +0,781
12) Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri +0,786
13) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0,790
14) Daniel Ricciardo Renault +0,793
15) Sébastien Vettel Ferrari +0,794
16) Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo +1,107
17) Kevin Magnussen Haas +1,283
18) Nicolas Latifi Williams +1,429
19) Pietro Fittipaldi Haas +1,602
20) Jack Aitken Williams +1,606



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