Bahrain GP Practice 3: Alonso shows Ferrari’s hand

Fernando Alonso was fastest in the final practice session, ahead of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Spaniard made the most of a low-fuel run, late in the session, to top the time sheets by over two tenths of a second.

Behind Alonso was Nico Rosberg, who once again outpaced his illustrious team-mate Michael Schumacher. Rosberg’s time may also prove to be significant ahead of qualifying, with the German faster than the Ferrari in two of the three sectors.

Mark Webber was third, with his team-mate Sebastian Vettel fifth, as both Red Bull drivers set the most laps of the session, in a bid to make up the time lost yesterday.

The session did not run without incident as Timo Glock’s Virgin shed his left-front wheel while attempting to set a quick lap. Scenes of Hungary 2009 came flooding back, as the loose wheel bounced down the circuit, forcing two drivers to take avoiding action.

Lewis Hamilton also suffered a tough final practice, with the 2008 champion forced to sacrifice a qualifying simulation after a problem with his McLaren’s front left brake duct.

Although Bruno Senna continued to rack up more laps in his untested HRT car, team-mate Karun Chandhok did not take part in the session. Although the Indian driver’s mechanics worked frantically at the rear of the car, they could not fix a hydraulics issue within the hour.

Pos  Driver         Team                  Time                Laps
1.   Alonso         Ferrari               1:54.099            14
2.   Rosberg        Mercedes              1:54.368  + 0.269   13
3.   Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1:54.500  + 0.401   15
4.   Schumacher     Mercedes              1:54.533  + 0.434   13
5.   Vettel         Red Bull-Renault      1:54.646  + 0.547   16
6.   Massa          Ferrari               1:54.739  + 0.640   14
7.   Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:55.000  + 0.901   14
8.   Kubica         Renault               1:55.331  + 1.232   15
9.   Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes  1:55.432  + 1.333   11
10.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth     1:55.461  + 1.362   13
11.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1:55.521  + 1.422   13
12.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes      1:55.860  + 1.761    8
13.  de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari        1:56.063  + 1.964   14
14.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:56.259  + 2.160   15
15.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:56.295  + 2.196   17
16.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:56.504  + 2.405   16
17.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari        1:56.530  + 2.431   13
18.  Petrov         Renault               1:56.811  + 2.712   16
19.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       1:59.173  + 5.074   10
20.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth        1:59.789  + 5.690   15
21.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth        2:01.259  + 7.160    5
22.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth          2:04.001  + 9.902   11
23.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth                            2
24.  Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth

With the top seven separated by less than a second, qualifying for the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix will be as unpredictable as ever.