Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen steers his car during the third free practice at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. The Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix will take place here on Sunday. Photo: Luca Bruno/AP Photo

MANAMA Kimi Raikkonen topped the times for Ferrari in Saturday’s third and final free practice session for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Finn clocked a best lap of one minute and 29.868 seconds to outpace Dutchman Max Verstappen by half a second as defending champions Mercedes laboured in pursuit.

Raikkonen’s Ferrari team-mate, four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel, withdrew from the final minutes of the session without clocking a flying lap.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest ahead of Briton Lewis Hamilton, the defending world champion, in the leading Mercedes and fifth-placed Vettel.

On another hot day in Sakhir, the temperature at the Bahrain International Circuit was 44 degrees Celsius on track and 30 in the air and Finn Valtteri Bottas was soon setting the pace for Mercedes.

Hamilton, who faces a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race, was in close proximity before the Ferraris emerged to take the initiative.

With 20 minutes remaining, Vettel went fastest by 0.062 ahead of Bottas before Raikkonen clocked a best lap of 1:29.868 to make it a Ferrari one-two on top of the timings.

Hamilton made a scrappy effort to spring back to the top but produced a messy lap and went off at the final corner before crossing the line, eight-tenths slower than Raikkonen in second.

Bottas also struggled on his super-soft tyres and remained fourth before the final flying runs, an outcome that suggested Ferrari were running higher power modes than Mercedes, as suggested on Friday by Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff.

With six minutes remaining, Vettel reported that there was something "quite bad" in Turns 11 and 12 and was told to pit. He came in and did not return in the session.

That left Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, to try again, along with the Red Bulls and Mercedes, in the final minutes.

That left Bottas sixth, ahead of German Nico Hulkenberg and his Renault team-mate Spaniard Carlos Sainz with Frenchman Pierre Gasly ninth for Toro Rosso. Two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso was 10th for Mercedes.   

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