Fernando Alonso fastest in final practice to lay down Bahrain Grand Prix marker

Fernando Alonso fastest in final practice to lay down Bahrain Grand Prix marker

Fernando Alonso continued his and Aston Martin’s impressive form at the Bahrain Grand Prix as he edged out world champion Max Verstappen in final practice.

The 41-year-old double world champion, fastest in Sakhir on Friday, topped the time sheets again ahead of qualifying later on Saturday.

Alonso saw off world champion Verstappen by just 0.005 seconds with Sergio Perez a tenth back in the other Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton finished fourth ahead of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and Mercedes’ George Russell.

On Friday, Hamilton said Mercedes were on the “wrong track” and had fallen further behind their rivals after a disappointing 2022.

But there will be some encouragement for the seven-time world champion and his team after he finished just two tenths back. Russell was 0.391 sec adrift.

However, it was not all rosy for Mercedes after they misjudged the clock and failed to get Hamilton out on track to perform a practice start before the pit-lane closed.

Hamilton left his garage but was forced to stop moments later as the light flicked from green to red.

“Come on guys,” said Hamilton as he was wheeled back by his mechanics. “This is twice now.”

Lance Stroll finished seventh, 0.579 sec behind Aston Martin team-mate Alonso with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz eighth. Lando Norris was 13th for McLaren.

Qualifying gets under way at 6pm local time (3pm UK).