Fernando Alonso led Sebastian Vettel in final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix

Chinese Grand Prix winner leads World Champion ahead of qualifying

By Mike Wise at Sakhir.   Last Updated: 20/04/13 12:03pm

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Fernando Alonso: Fastest in final practice in Bahrain

Fernando Alonso: Fastest in final practice in Bahrain

Fernando Alonso was fastest in final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday morning ahead of World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

Alonso, who is looking to repeat his victory in China last weekend, lapped the 5.412km Sakhir circuit in a time of 1:33.247 seconds, with Vettel just over a tenth of a second slower.

Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber was third fastest ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who was fastest in Friday's sessions. Lewis Hamilton was next up for Mercedes, with Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Paul di Resta (Force India), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber) completing the top ten.

There was drama at the end of the hour when Lewis Hamilton's suspension was damaged by a failure on his left-rear tyre with the team subsequently announcing their driver will incur a five-place grid penalty for a change of gearbox.

The session took place in slightly cooler weather than Friday morning's, with cloud cover lowering track temperatures.

The change was only a few degrees but given tyre sensitivity to the prevailing conditions, it's something that teams will have taken note of ahead of the afternoon's qualifying session.

The big names started lapping on hard compound tyres 15 minutes in, with Webber immediately setting the fastest time of the week so far, a 1:33.875s, before Grosjean went four tenths faster.

Vettel (1:33.348s) then moved ahead of the Frenchman's Lotus, with Alonso third ahead of di Resta before the Spaniard made an uncharacteristic slip, losing control of his F138 exiting Turn 2.

Alonso briefly became beached in gravel but was soon able to continue.

Raikkonen was ninth after a longer stint - 13 laps - than any of the frontrunners while the first runs on the hard tyre for Hamilton and Button saw them right behind.

Changing over to mediums, Hamilton moved up the order but only to P2, a tenth slower than Vettel's time on hards.

Alonso then followed suit and lowered Vettel's benchmark by a tenth while Raikkonen moved up to third ahead of Hamilton while Force India further confirmed their candidacy for Q3.

Webber's first run on the mediums bumped Raikkonen down a place while Vettel's own attempt on the white-walled tyres was compromised, firstly by Charles Pic's Caterham and then by an excursion into the run-off at Turn 12.

Unlike Friday, the session saw Vettel use a larger rear wing, with Webber's car sporting a skinnier one. Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz also reported that Vettel's car was not running the front wheel hub Red Bull have developed which, they hope, will boost the RB9's aerodynamic efficiency in that area.

Both Ferraris were sporting the new front wings they used in China, likewise Mercedes. Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa ended the session 11th fastest.

Max Chilton's session was ended early by a KERS failure but the Marussia rookie was not slowest - Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez over six seconds slower than Alonso after running more laps - 29 - than anybody.

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