Fernando Alonso continued Aston Martin’s good start to the 2023 FIA Formula One World Championship by taking top spot in the final practice session ahead of qualifying in Bahrain, edging out Red Bull’s defending world champion Max Verstappen by 0.005s. Sergio Pérez was third in the sister Red Bull car.
In sweltering temperatures, Charles Leclerc set the first representative time of the hour-long session but he was swiftly eclipsed by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and then by Alonso. After some unrepresentative efforts, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc went top with a 1m33.574s on softs, a time which was gradually improved upon by first Lewis Hamilton and then Alonso.
The two-time champion made his way to a time of 1:33.121 to lead at the hallway stage ahead of Hamilton and the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerx.
Their times had been delivered on soft tyres, while fifth-placed Verstappen was sticking to the weekend’s hard compound tyre and on the white-banded rubber the Dutchman was just half a second off the pace.
Soon after, Lance Stroll appeared for his qualifying run on soft tyres. The Canadian, coping with hand injuries sustained in a pre-season bicycle accident, put in a good effort of 1:32.010 with 15 minutes to take top spot ahead of his Aston Martin team-mate.
Hamilton then went out for his qualifying and the Mercedes driver took over in P1 with a lap of 1:32.555 with team-mate George Russell moving to P2 two tenths behind.
It was then Verstappen’s turn to finally bolt on a set of the red-banded soft tyres and the world champion moved to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:32.345.
Alonso, though, found more pace on his quali run and the Spaniard returned to P1, 0.005s ahead of Verstappen.
Pérez had that benchmark to beat as he was one of the last to undertake a qualifying sim but he couldn’t find the pace and he finished in third place one tenth behind Alonso and Verstappen.
Ferrari also put in late quali runs and Leclerc moved to fifth to split Hamilton and Russell, shuffling Stroll down to seventh place ahead of Sainz. McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri finished ninth ahead of the Alpine pair of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.
2023 FIA Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 13 1:32.340
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 13 1:32.345 0.005
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 12 1:32.446 0.106
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17 1:32.555 0.215
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 21 1:32.624 0.284
6 George Russell Mercedes 17 1:32.731 0.391
7 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 16 1:32.919 0.579
8 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 21 1:32.945 0.605
9 Oscar Piastri McLaren 12 1:33.045 0.705
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 13 1:33.064 0.724
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine 16 1:33.116 0.776
12 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 13 1:33.180 0.840
13 Lando Norris McLaren 16 1:33.202 0.862
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 21 1:33.381 1.041
15 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 23 1:33.423 1.083
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 15 1:33.475 1.135
17 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 14 1:33.629 1.289
18 Logan Sargeant Williams 15 1:33.665 1.325
19 Alex Albon Williams 15 1:33.882 1.542
20 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 18 1:34.082 1.742