Hamilton on top again in final practice in Bahrain
Mercedes drivers more than half a second clear of field in final hour of track time ahead of qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton continued his domination of the Bahrain practice session timesheets, the Mercedes driver finishing a tenths of a second ahead of second-placed team-mate Nico Rosberg. Defending champion Sebastian Vettel ended up 21st after spinning out.
Vettel’s spin occurred with 20 minutes remaining in the session, just prior to teams making the switch from the prime medium tyre to the quicker soft Pirelli compound. The Red Bull Racing driver got out of shape on the kerbing at the exit of Turn Two and spin into the gravel trap. It meant he was unable to set a time of the soft tyre and he thus ended the session in 21st place, just ahead of last-placed Max Chilton of Marussia.
At the top of the times Hamilton again controlled matters in relative comfort. When the switch to the soft compound was made with a quarter of the session remaining Rosberg quickly jumped into P1 with a time two seconds clear of the laps set on the medium tyre. Hamilton, though, crossed the line seconds later to steal back first position with a time of 1:35.324.
That was it for the Mercedes pair and having delivered proof of their seemingly unassailable pace, Hamilton and Rosberg called time on their running.
Behind them, Sergio Perez finished third for Force India, the Mexican racer ending the session half a second adrift of Hamilton’s benchmark.
It was a good outing, too, for Williams with Valtteri Bottas fourth with a lap of 1:36.116, two tenths ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa.
Jenson Button was sixth for McLaren, ahead of Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniill Kvyat and Kimi Raikkonen.
It was another difficult session for Lotus, with both Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean complaining about poor grip with their E22 cars. The pair finished the session in 18th and 20th place respectively.
2014 Bahrain Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Result
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.324 12
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.439 0.115 12
3 Sergio Perez Force India 1:35.868 0.544 10
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:36.116 0.792 10
5 Felipe Massa Williams 1:36.364 1.040 8
6 Jenson Button McLaren 1:36.394 1.070 8
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:36.454 1.130 12
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:36.455 1.131 11
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:36.680 1.356 16
10 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:36.772 1.448 13
11 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:36.822 1.498 8
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:37.030 1.706 11
13 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:37.119 1.795 11
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:37.325 2.001 18
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:38.089 2.765 24
16 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:38.400 3.076 17
17 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:38.736 3.412 15
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:38.880 3.556 21
19 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:38.971 3.647 18
20 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:39.208 3.884 17
21 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:39.225 3.901 8
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1:39.597 4.273 14