Max Verstappen hits the front for Red Bull in Bahrain GP Practice Three
Max Verstappen 0.2s faster than Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas third in Mercedes; Alex Albon 0.6s back in other Red Bull, McLaren and AlphaTauri leading midfield; Watch qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 2pm
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 28/11/20 1:01pm
Max Verstappen looks ready to take the fight to Mercedes in Bahrain GP qualifying after impressively setting the pace in Saturday's final practice ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
The Red Bull star had trailed Hamilton in both Friday sessions but nailed his soft-tyre laps in P3, with his 1:28.355 0.263s faster than the 2020 Drivers' Champion and a further tenth of a second clear of Valtteri Bottas.
Verstappen, who completed two qualy-simulation laps with low fuel, was also quicker than both Mercedes after the opening efforts. Hamilton, meanwhile, appeared to have a steering wheel issue at the end of the hour.
Although final practice took place in unrepresentative conditions compared to qualifying and the race - in the sunshine compared to floodlights - Verstappen's pace raises hopes of a battle for pole, with qualifying starting at 2pm, live on Sky Sports F1.
"To be two or three tenths ahead of Mercedes, that's a very impressive effort from Max Verstappen," said Sky F1's Karun Chandhok.
"And Bottas appears to be back in the game."
Mercedes found themselves in a Red Bull sandwich, though Alex Albon, who suffered a heavy crash on Friday and subsequently changed his chassis was some way off the pace in fourth, 0.6s slower than his team-mate.
McLaren and AlphaTauri led a competitive midfield, with Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris filling positions five through eight, with Racing Point completing the top-10 ahead of the Renaults.
Ferrari have struggled to join that battle this weekend and Sebastian Vettel was their lead car in 13th in Practice Three, with Charles Leclerc three tenths, and two places, further back.
Alfa Romeo and George Russell look to be leading the fight for a Q2 place once the shootout begins.
Bahrain GP Practice Three Timesheet
|1) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:28.355|
|2) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+0.263|
|3) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0.366|
|4) Alexander Albon||Red Bull||+0.663|
|5) Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+1.100|
|6) Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+1.117|
|7) Lando Norris||McLaren||+1.212|
|8) Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||+1.230|
|9) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+1.305|
|10) Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+1.317|
|11) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+1.329|
|12) Esteban Ocon||Renault||+1.336|
|13) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+1.504|
|14) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+1.615|
|15) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+1.828|
|16) George Russell||Williams||+2.204|
|17) Romain Grosjean||Haas||+2.297|
|18) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+2.404|
|19) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+2.468|
|20) Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+2.562|