Bahrain, FP3: Alonso narrowly beats Verstappen in final practice

Perez 3rd, Hamilton 4th


By Franck Drui

4 March 2023 - 13:44
Bahrain, FP3: Alonso narrowly beats (...)

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.

01 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:32.340 13
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:32.345 13
03 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:32.446 12
04 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1:32.555 17
05 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1:32.624 21
06 George Russell Mercedes W14 1:32.731 17
07 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:32.919 16
08 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF-23 1:32.945 21
09 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:33.045 12
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault A523 1:33.064 13
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A523 1:33.116 16
12 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:33.180 13
13 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:33.202 16
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:33.381 21
15 Nico Hülkenberg Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:33.423 23
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:33.475 15
17 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:33.629 14
18 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes FW45 1:33.665 15
19 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW45 1:33.882 15
20 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:34.082 18

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