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Bahrain GP: Carlos Sainz fastest from Fernando Alonso ahead of Friday qualifying in Sakhir

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz led a Spanish one-two with Fernando Alonso in second for Aston Martin in final practice; watch Bahrain GP qualifying on Friday at 4pm and Saturday's season-opening race at 3pm live on Sky Sports F1

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There's plenty to look forward to on Sky Sports F1 as the start of the 2024 season edges closer

Carlos Sainz topped final practice from Fernando Alonso ahead of Friday qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Alonso topped the majority of the session but Sainz leapt to the front on a 1:30.824 to go 0.141s quicker than his fellow Spaniard with five minutes to go.

Max Verstappen was third, with Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris completing the top five, which was split by less than three tenths of a second, leaving us with an exciting qualifying to come at 4pm on Friday - live on Sky Sports F1.

Mercedes' George Russell finished sixth from Oscar Piastri and Sergio Perez, with Lewis Hamilton down in 12th.

Ferrari were fastest in pre-season testing last week and seemingly didn't show their full hand on Thursday but Sainz and Leclerc turned up their power units in final practice to prepare for qualifying.

However, the session was held in daylight and the track temperature was much higher than it will be for qualifying and the race, which are held at night in Sakhir.

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This weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix will be taking place on Saturday rather than the usual Sunday slot!

Despite being in 12th, Hamilton was only six tenths off the pace and will still be buoyed by his fast pace in second practice, which represented similar conditions to qualifying.

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It seems there will be a big fight for pole position in the first qualifying of 2024 and Red Bull are going to be challenged by several times including Ferrari, Mercedes, Aston Martin and McLaren.

Bahrain GP Practice Three Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:30.824
2) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +0.141
3) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.238
4) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.270
5) Lando Norris McLaren +0.294
6) George Russell Mercedes +0.366
7) Oscar Piastri McLaren +0.386
8) Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.424
9) Nico Hulkenberg Haas +0.454
10) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +0.572
11) Daniel Ricciardo RB +0.625
12) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.628
13) Yuki Tsunoda RB +0.807
14) Kevin Magnussen Haas +0.847
15) Alex Albon Williams +1.141
16) Zhou Guanyu Sauber +1.176
17) Valtteri Bottas Sauber +1.272
18) Esteban Ocon Alpine +1.300
19) Logan Sargeant Williams +1.301
20) Pierre Gasly Alpine +1.558

During the session, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was briefly absent from the pit wall as he was seen speaking with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Ben Sulayem is expected to meet with Formula 1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali on Friday to discuss the investigation by the team's parent company that resulted in allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Horner being dismissed.

Horner reiterated his denial of allegations of inappropriate behaviour after material purporting to be the alleged evidence in the investigation into his conduct was leaked on Thursday.

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Christian Horner was missing from the pit wall during P3 as he went to speak with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem the Bahrain GP.

Close qualifying to come in Bahrain

Sky Sports F1 pundits Martin Brundle and Naomi Schiff predict an exciting qualifying at 4pm, with build-up from 3.10pm.

"I don't think the Red Bulls are performing in the windy conditions but I do think it's absolutely clear that they are not miles clear like some people were feeling after the test," reacted Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle.

Naomi Schiff added: "It's been highly exciting and ever-changing. We've seen the Mercedes being quick, the Aston being quick, the Ferrari being quick, and obviously you can never count out the Red Bull.

"The most impressive thing for me there was that the top 10 was separated by about half a second - it was that tight. So I think it's anybody's game for qualifying today. There are quite a few teams in the mix. Mercedes have quick one-lap pace, so do Red Bull, Ferrari have shown it as well. We've got a really exciting day on our hands."

Sky Sports F1's live Bahrain GP schedule

Friday March 1

  • 2.10pm: F2 Sprint Race
  • 3.10pm: Bahrain GP Qualifying build-up
  • 6pm: Ted's Qualifying Notebook

Saturday March 2

  • 8.55am: F3 Feature Race
  • 10.25am: F2 Feature Race
  • 1.30pm: Bahrain GP build-up: Grand Prix Saturday
  • 5pm: Bahrain GP reaction: Chequered Flag
  • 6pm: Ted's Notebook
  • 6.30pm: Bahrain GP highlights

Watch every round of the new season, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the opening race on Saturday at 3pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership

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