Hamilton closes out Bahrain GP practice on top

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Lewis Hamilton has finished fastest in the third and final practice session ahead of qualifying for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday evening.

The defending Formula 1 world champion edged out Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by just 0.069 seconds at the top of the timesheets with a fastest lap of 1:34.599 as Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg finished three-tenths of a second adrift in third place.

Just as we saw in FP1 on Friday, with final practice being run in the daytime, drivers were hesitant to head out early in the session when conditions were unlike the ones they will encounter later in the evening for qualifying and the race on Sunday.

Vettel and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen set the early pace on the medium compound tire, but it was Hamilton who took Mercedes back to the top of the timesheets once the switch had been made to qualifying simulations in the final minutes of the session.

However, by running the world champion so close, Vettel has proven that Ferrari will be a genuine threat during qualifying. Raikkonen underpinned his teammate’s pace by finishing the session in fourth place ahead of the Williams pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.

Pastor Maldonado finished an excellent seventh in the final practice session for Lotus, whilst Daniel Ricciardo was the leading Red Bull in P8 after his teammate, Daniil Kvyat, spun off into the gravel early in the session. The Russian eventually finished down in 12th place.

Jenson Button finally managed to enjoy a trouble-free session for McLaren, getting 14 laps under his belt en route to 11th place. His teammate, Fernando Alonso, finished 15th.

At the front, we looked poised for another great battle between Mercedes and Ferrari under the lights in Bahrain, but it is Hamilton who remains in control following practice.

Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix is live on CNBC and Live Extra from 11am ET on Saturday.