Lewis Hamilton quickest in final Bahrain GP practice

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton leads the title race by 13 points
Bahrain Grand Prix
Venue: Bahrain International Circuit Dates: 17-19 April
Coverage: Live coverage on BBC television, BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra, plus text commentary on BBC Sport website

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton shaded Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in final practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton was just 0.069 seconds quicker than Vettel, setting up a potentially fascinating battle between Mercedes and Ferrari in qualifying at 16:00 BST.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen were third and fourth, the German 0.369secs behind Hamilton and Raikkonen a further 0.173secs back.

Williams's Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were next.

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The pace of Vettel suggests Ferrari are a very serious threat to Mercedes at Sakhir, where strong desert winds are making life difficult for drivers.

Williams chief technical officer Pat Symonds said: "Ferrari are looking pretty competitive again; in fact, extremely competitive."

While conditions in qualifying, which starts at sunset, will be much cooler and will pose a different challenge, Mercedes always seem to find extra pace when it matters in the battle for grid positions.

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado finished seventh, edging Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo back into eighth place, ahead of the surprisingly fast Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.

Sauber's Felipe Nasr took 10th, just 0.059secs quicker than McLaren's Jenson Button, who was 0.411secs and four places ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso.

It was an impressive performance from Button, who lost most of his running on Friday with car problems.

But it was another troubled session for Daniil Kvyat, whose career with the senior Red Bull team has not got off to a good start.

Kvyat, who made his debut for junior team Toro Rosso last year, spun at Turn Four and oddly let the car roll back into the gravel trap, where it was beached, rather than apply the brakes.

The Russian did get back out again right at the end of the session and ended up 12th, 0.213secs off Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel continued the Ferrari threat to Mercedes in final practice

Bahrain GP practice results

Bahrain GP coverage details