SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) — Kimi Raikkonen posted the fastest time in the third and final practice ahead of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday.
The Ferrari driver, who also had the best lap in second practice on Saturday, clocked a leading time of 1 minute, 29.9 seconds on the 5.4-kilometer (3.3-mile) desert circuit. He was about a half-second quicker than the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
World champion Lewis Hamilton was fourth quickest ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who won the season-opening Australian GP two weeks ago.
Vettel had some problems with a loose side pod on the right of his car, while Hamilton had other concerns. The British driver expressed his annoyance over team radio as he came into the pit lane, saying some spectators got too close to his Mercedes.
“Who were those people on the left-hand side?” Hamilton said. “I was coming in at some speed, I could have killed them.”
Hamilton’s chances of winning the race took a hit after he was penalized five grid penalties for an unscheduled gearbox change on Friday. The problem was caused by a hydraulic leak sustained during the Australian GP.
Drivers must use gearboxes for six consecutive races before being allowed a new one.
The penalty came after an already frustrating Friday for Hamilton and Mercedes, when both of its drivers were more than a half-second slower than Raikkonen and Vettel in second practice. Ricciardo had earlier topped P1.
Vettel won in Melbourne, with Hamilton second. Vettel profited from an error by Mercedes to beat Hamilton, who was leading from pole before his team misjudged Vettel’s entrance into the pits after a virtual safety car was deployed.
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