Bahrain GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report
Rosberg on top again in final practice
Nico Rosberg (1:33.254) set the quickest lap in the final session of free practice ahead of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, round 4 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
With teams doing soft tyre runs before the qualifying hour, Rosberg's Mercedes looks handily placed, with a decent margin in hand over the Red Bull RB8s of Sebastian Vettel (1:33.401) and Mark Webber (1:33.663).
Rosberg's time was more than four tenths shy of his FP2 pace, a likely result of sand blown onto the circuit overnight and cross winds for most of the session. In those conditions track improvement throughout a session is significant, meaning that Rosberg's lap, set a good 15-20 minutes before the Red Bull times, is even more ominous for the opposition.
Lewis Hamilton (1:33.782) set the fourth quickest time for McLaren, ahead of Michael Schumacher (1:33.796) in the second Mercedes, who was half a second from Rosberg's pace. Jenson Button was sixth quickest (1:33.899) with the second McLaren as the team appeared to do more work on the option tyre than most of the opposition.
Hamilton and Button do not seem as happy with car balance on the prime (medium) Pirelli, prompting speculation that they may look at doing another multi-stop race on the softer tyre if they can make it last. The McLarens did one more stop than the victorious Mercedes at the last race in China, with Button's challenge part thwarted by a slow final pit stop.
Kimi Raikkonen (1:33.976) was seventh with the Lotus, split from team mate Romain Grosjean (1:34.401) by a strong lap from Daniel Ricciardo (1:34.197) in the Toro Rosso.
Fernando Alonso's Ferrari (1:34.895) was a further half a second back in the quicker of the Ferraris, two hundredths clear of Pastor Maldonado's Williams (1:34.918). The Venezuelan will be hit by a five place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.