Bahrain GP: Sebastian Vettel top as Ferrari beat Mercedes in final practice

Ferrari F1 driver Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari won the first ever Bahrain GP, thanks to Michael Schumacher in 2004
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Sebastian Vettel headed a Ferrari one-two ahead of the Mercedes drivers in final practice before qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Vettel was 0.040 seconds quicker than team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, with Nico Rosberg in third 0.421secs adrift.

World champion Lewis Hamilton, who has been out-paced by Rosberg this weekend so far, was 0.056s further back.

The result raises the possibility of Ferrari mounting a serious challenge to Mercedes in the Gulf desert.

The two big teams are in a league of their own, with Williams driver Valtteri Bottas best of the rest in fifth place ahead of Romain Grosjean, driving for the new US-based Haas team.

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The Frenchman's team-mate Esteban Gutierrez was eighth fastest behind the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat, split from team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by the second Williams of Felipe Massa.

McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne put in a highly impressive performance as stand-in for the injured Fernando Alonso.

The Belgian was 14th fastest, one place and only 0.04secs slower than team-mate Jenson Button despite missing the first three-quarters of the session as a result of an oil leak.

Vandoorne only discovered he would be driving here on Thursday, after Alonso failed a medical check as a result of a rib fracture sustained in his spectacular crash in Australia two weeks ago.

Mclaren F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne in action at the Bahrain Grand Prix
McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne was able to complete some much-needed laps after suffering an oil leak problem

The 24-year-old flew overnight from Japan to arrive in Bahrain only hours before first practice on Friday, having never driven the McLaren before.

Renault's Jolyon Palmer was 20th fastest, eight places behind team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who has to start from the pit lane having missed a weight check in second practice on Friday.

Qualifying at 16:00 BST will take place against the backdrop of the setting sun, creating different conditions from those in final practice, held in the afternoon.

Ferrari had looked off the pace and struggling on Friday, with Mercedes appearing imperious.

But the picture looks different now and anticipation will be high for a close fight for pole between Mercedes and Ferrari.

Bahrain GP third practice results

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