Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg held off a challenge from Red Bull Racing to top the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Rosberg’s time of 1:33.254 was four-tenths slower than his best from Friday but still good enough to be unmatched by his rivals. His closest challenger was Sebastian Vettel, who got to within two-tenths on his final run of the session. At the start of the hour the Lotuses of Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean made the early running before Vettel took over at the half way point. With many drives switching to the softer compounds for short run qualifying simulations in the second half of the hour the Mercedes of Rosberg and Michael Schumacher came to the fore.
Both Mark Webber and Vettel left the garage at the end of the session to move up the timing screen. First Webber slotted into second position, some four-tenths slower than Rosberg, before Vettel went quicker as the chequered flag came out. Behind them Lewis Hamilton was fourth quickest for McLaren, a tenth off Webber, followed in close order by Schumacher and the second McLaren of Jenson Button.
Kimi Räikkönen was seventh for Lotus and Daniel Riccardo eighth, the Toro Rosso driver the last man within a second of the pace-setter. Romain Grosjean for Lotus and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten. With most drivers content with three or four short runs, the only two cars to go beyond 20 laps were the Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, who managed 22 and 21 respectively. They finished the session in 15th and 19th places, with the Scot the quicker of the pair. The slowest car on track was the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan, six seconds off the pace but within the 107 per cent target time.