Fernando Alonso fired a serious warning shot to the other teams by setting the fastest time in the third and final practice session in the lead-up this afternoon’s maiden qualifying session for the 2010 season.
In a session typically used to prepare for and simulate qualifying-style runs, Alonso’s fastest time of 1:54.099 was the fastest of the weekend so far on the extended Sakhir circuit.
As if to prove that he will be a force to be reckoned with all weekend, Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg again held his own in this session, and finished just 0.269s slower than the Ferrari despite setting quicker sector times in the first and second sectors of the 6.299km circuit.
Mark Webber recovered from his lost mileage in the second practice session (courtesy of a driveshaft problem) and lapped third-quickest of the drivers. He was trailed by Michael Schumacher, who has consistently been about 0.4s slower than Rosberg in every session so far.
Sebastian Vettel was fifth-quickest, followed by Felipe Massa, who landed up sixth-quickest with a fastest lap that included running wide at the final corner.
Jenson Button, Robert Kubica, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Nico Hülkenberg completed the top-ten.
One driver of note who failed to feature in the top-ten was Lewis Hamilton, who missed out on the chance to perform a qualifying-style run courtesy of a front brake duct issue.
There was also some action further down the field, with the particular stand-out being a fright for Virgin Racing’s Timo Glock when his front-left wheel parted company with his VR-01. Glock’s team-mate Lucas di Grassi lost more crucial mileage with a gearbox problem.
Karun Chandhok’s miserable weekend continued, and for the third session in a row he was unable to complete a single lap in his HRT Cosworth, with yet more gearbox problems in his car.
He looks likely to be ruled out for the rest of the weekend, with the Sporting Regulations stating that a driver must have participated in at least one practice session in order to be eligible to qualify for the racer proper.
No doubt someone from HRT will be making a beeline for the Stewards’ office to claim force majeure.
2010 Bahrain GP Practice 3 Session Times:
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:54.368||13|
|3.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault||1:54.500||15|
|4.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:54.533||13|
|5.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault||1:54.646||16|
|7.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||1:55.000||14|
|9.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India Mercedes||1:55.432||11|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Williams Cosworth||1:55.461||13|
|11.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes||1:55.521||13|
|12.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes||1:55.860||8|
|13.||Pedro de la Rosa||Sauber Ferrari||1:56.063||14|
|14.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth||1:56.259||15|
|15.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:56.295||17|
|16.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:56.504||16|
|17.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari||1:56.530||13|
|19.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth||1:59.173||10|
|20.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Cosworth||1:59.789||15|
|21.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus Cosworth||2:01.259||5|
|22.||Bruno Senna||HRT Cosworth||2:04.001||11|
|23.||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing Cosworth||no time||2|
|24.||Karun Chandhok||HRT Cosworth||no time|
[Image via ITV-F1]