F1 Bahrain Grand Prix: Alonso pips Verstappen in final practice


Fernando Alonso kept Red Bull’s Max Verstappen off the top of the timesheets in final practice for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday as Aston Martin continued to impress.

In a battle of double Formula One world champions, the 41-year-old Spaniard lapped 0.005 faster than title holder Verstappen with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez third quickest and 0.106 off the pace.

Mercedes’ seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton was fourth quickest, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and his own team mate George Russell in the last track action before qualifying at Sakhir.

Alonso was also fastest in Friday’s final practice in an eye-catching effort for a team who finished seventh overall last season but appear to have made a big leap forwards with their new car.

Such a dramatic step from one season to another is rare in Formula One, particularly without major rule changes, but Aston Martin have recruited top talent from other teams including technical director Dan Fallows from Red Bull.

Alonso, as hungry and motivated as ever, has joined from Renault-owned Alpine.

“Their car looks great,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner had told reporters after Friday’s opening practice backed up performances in testing at the same circuit last week.

“Fernando, I don’t know what he’s taking but he’s looking great on it.

“He looks on fire, so I think they could be a real surprise this year. Bit of a dark horse.”

Alonso’s Canadian team mate Lance Stroll, who broke both his wrists last month and appeared to be struggling at times on Friday, was seventh fastest with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz eighth.

McLaren’s Australian Oscar Piastri was again the quickest rookie, ninth fastest.


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