• Bahrain Grand Prix - FP3

Rosberg still in front in final practice

ESPNF1 Staff
April 21, 2012

Nico Rosberg remained at the top of the timesheets during the final practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix, but failed to match his fastest time from Friday practice.

High winds left the circuit dusty for the start of the session and Rosberg's time of 1:33.254 was roughly 0.4s off his best time in second practice. Nevertheless, he was still 0.147s faster than his closest rival Sebastian Vettel, who in turn was 0.262s faster than his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber in third.

After the session Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said his drivers were in "reasonable shape" for pole position, but admitted they were not as happy with the car as they were on Friday. He highlighted the medium tyres as the main problem area for Mercedes, which could cause problems come race day.

Lewis Hamilton was 0.528s off Rosberg in fourth, but it is possible the McLaren was running more fuel than the Mercedes as Hamilton completed several laps after setting his time whereas Rosberg returned straight to the pits. The second Mercedes of Michael Schumacher was a further 0.014s off Hamilton as he again looks to be off the pace of team-mate Rosberg.

After struggling on Friday, Jenson Button picked up the pace by a couple of tenths in final practice but was still 0.645s off Rosberg. However, his best time came towards the end of the session on used tyres, suggesting he will be closer in qualifying when he uses a fresh set of the soft tyres.

After focusing on analysing new parts on Friday, Kimi Raikkonen started to reveal the true potential of the Lotus with the seventh fastest time. The team is aiming for a podium as soon as possible this season, but will have to pick up its performance in qualifying if it is hoping to achieve its goal on Sunday.

Daniel Ricciardo showed improved pace in the Toro Rosso with the eighth fastest time. After struggling in China he appeared to be off the pace again on Friday morning, but has been improving over the past two practice sessions and finished FP3 just 0.943s off Rosberg.

Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten as Ferrari looks set for one of its toughest races yet. To emphasise that point Felipe Massa was 2.282s off the pace back in 16th.

Force India returned to the track after skipping second practice on Friday, but both drivers were over two seconds off the pace with Paul di Resta 15th and Nico Hulkeberg behind the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen in 19th.