Lewis Hamilton sixth in final practice as Max Verstappen sets pace in Bahrain
Lewis Hamilton finished sixth in final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix as world champion Max Verstappen continued to set the pace.
Red Bull’s Verstappen, also quickest in Friday’s second session, ended the concluding action before qualifying just 0.096 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Sergio Perez third in the other Red Bull.
George Russell again finished ahead of new Mercedes team-mate Hamilton in fourth, with Carlos Sainz fifth for Ferrari.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton wrote off his chances of winning Formula One’s opening round after struggling to dial in Mercedes’ new machine.
And although Hamilton reduced the deficit to Verstappen from 1.2secs on Friday night to less than six tenths on Saturday, the Mercedes driver will head into the battle for pole position having failed to trouble the top of the time charts in either of the three practice sessions.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has claimed Red Bull are in a league of their own, and Verstappen will head into qualifying as the favourite to claim the first pole of his championship defence.
But Leclerc, who escaped any major damage after spinning at Turn 11, will be hot on his heels.
The returning Kevin Magnussen took seventh for Haas ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas. British driver Lando Norris was 11th for McLaren.
Qualifying takes place at 6pm local time (3pm UK).
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