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Red Bull v Ferrari for Bahrain Grand Prix honours after testing concludes

Red Bull v Ferrari for Bahrain Grand Prix honours after testing concludes

F1 News

Red Bull v Ferrari for Bahrain Grand Prix honours after testing concludes

Red Bull v Ferrari for Bahrain Grand Prix honours after testing concludes

Red Bull and Ferrari suggested they will be the teams to beat when F1's new season gets underway next weekend in Bahrain.

Six days of pre-season testing concluded with the two teams seemingly ahead of its rivals, and with reigning drivers' champion Max Verstappen fastest of all.

At the hands of Sergio Perez, the RB18 rolled out sporting more sculpted sidepods and a new floor, and the Mexican finished the morning four-hour session with the best time of one minute 33.105secs.

In the afternoon, Verstappen took over and exchanged leading times with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc before setting the headline-setting time of 1:31.720s, seven-tenths-of-a-second clear of the Monégasque in the F1-75.

In fairness, Verstappen's time was on the softest of the five Pirelli compounds while Leclerc's time was on the marginally harder C4.

Verstappen, though, had initially set the timesheet alight with a time on the medium C3 that was already eye-catching before his late soft blast in more representative conditions under the floodlights.

What was noticeable was the planted nature of the Red Bull and Ferrari, with little bouncing in comparison to the Mercedes that was by far the worst when it came to the much-talked-about porpoising of these new aerodynamic cars.

With two hours of additional running afforded to Haas at the end of the day to make up for lost time following the late arrival of its freight, Mick Schumacher went on to split Verstappen and Leclerc with a lap of 1:32.241, half-a-second down.

George Russell finished fifth fastest, a second adrift of Verstappen on a set of C5s, after being relegated a place with minutes remaining by Alpine's Fernando Alonso.

You suspect if Mercedes can overcome the negative effects of these regulations with regard to the porpoising then it will be in the mix.

Overall, 18 drivers took to the Bahrain International Circuit across the day, with Lewis Hamilton 17th of those in the standings, albeit on a far different heavy-fuel run plan compared to Russell's low-fuel simulations.

Hamilton's former team-mate Valtteri Bottas was sixth on the timesheet, a second down on Verstappen, with the Finn followed by AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda and then Perez.

McLaren's Lando Norris and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel completed the top 10, the latter two seconds back.

And a day after setting the best time on Friday, Haas' Kevin Magnussen propped up the times on Saturday, although his programme was vastly different.

Bahrain pre-season test day three leading times

1. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] 1:31.270s [53]

2. Mick Schumacher [Haas] 1:32.241 [85]

3. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] 1:32.415 [51]

4. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] 1:32.698 [122]

5. George Russell [Mercedes] 1:32.759 [71]

6. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] 1:32.985 [68]

7. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] 1:33.002 [57]

8. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] 1:33.105 [43]

9. Lando Norris [McLaren] 1:33.191 [90]

10. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] [81]

11. Guanyu Zhou [Alfa Romeo] 1:33.959 [82]

12. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] 1:34.865 [91]

13. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] 1:34.905 [68]

14. Alex Albon [Williams] 1:35.171 [18]

15. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] 1:35.634 [124]

16. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] 1:36.029 [53]

17. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] 1:36.217 [78]

18. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] 1:38.616 [38]

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