Ferrari's Raikkonen tops the timesheets in final Bahrain GP practice

Ferrari mechanic Francesco Cigarini who was struck by Kimi Raikkonen's car following a botched pit-stop and suffered a double leg break underwent surgery in a Bahrain hospital

Daniel Ricciardo completed a Red Bull 2-3 in third fastest, 0.584 seconds adrift of Raikkonen and trailing his teammate by 0.059 seconds.

While team-mate Valtteri Bottas has also taken a new gearbox for this weekend, he avoids a penalty as the unit used in the race at Australia was a spare component fitted as a compromise following his crash during the Q3 segment of qualifying. Hamilton's five-place grid penalty is because he needed a gearbox change on Friday.

"It is a very different circuit, different tarmac, different temperatures, so for sure we need to understand completely why".

Ferrari looked to be the team to beat throughout the Bahrain practices and it was more of the same in qualifying. "The tyres feel the best they have here in years, very stable with less degradation".

McLaren dropped Honda engines at the end of past year - at a net cost of about $100m - claiming their lack of performance and reliability was holding back a auto they said was one of the best in the field.

"Tomorrow is the main thing, that is the time when we get the points".

"The base for us is okay, but we don't have the edge we had in Melbourne".

The Finn's car came to a halt a few metres later and he was forced out of Sunday's race
The Finn's car came to a halt a few metres later and he was forced out of Sunday's race

Raikkonen set the day's fastest lap of 1 minute 29.817 seconds under the brilliant floodlights of Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir.

Ferrari's session was almost damaged further when Raikkonen emerged from the pit lane late on and nearly drove into the side of Verstappen at Turn 1, having to take heavily to the curb to avoid contact.

The race stewards said they felt Ferrari had done all they could to minimise the risk of the wheel coming off the auto. "My long run I think was okay, it should have been a bit stronger but as I said we try different things with the auto and the balance". Here the track improves all the time, with more grip every lap.

The Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc, who spun on his final lap and said on team radio that "I am so stupid", plus the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll were also eliminated in the opening phase.

"The auto felt OK, but we need to find some more pace especially on a single lap".

Aside from the two title favourites, there will be a number of other storylines to keep an eye on, especially whether Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen can respond after missing out on podium places in Melbourne.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly was ninth in his Honda-powered Toro Rosso with Fernando Alonso, a three-times victor in Bahrain, rounding out the top 10 in his McLaren.

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