Max Verstappen set the pace at the end of pre-season testing as Red Bull suggested it is the benchmark team ahead of the Formula 1 campaign.

As teams ran close to their qualifying simulations in the optimal evening conditions at the Bahrain International Circuit and fastest laps were traded, it was Verstappen who emerged as the frontrunner.

On the C4 Pirelli tyres, the second softest of the five compounds available for the teams, the Dutch driver posted a superb time of one minute 28.960secs.

Red Bull appears to have asserted itself as the team to beat if its performance across the three days is anything to go by, usurping reigning champions Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton again struggled with the rear of his W12.

About to embark on a flying lap late in the session, Hamilton spun his car through 360 degrees coming out of the final corner, adding to his Saturday spin into the gravel.

Hamilton eventually finished fifth quickest on the softest compound, the C5, 1.065s adrift with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari and the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen sandwiching the seven-time champion from Verstappen.

At this stage, there is a possibility of a strong championship fight on the cards from Red Bull, with Verstappen looking assured with the RB16B after team-mate Sergio Perez’s fastest time of the morning that eventually left him eighth.

Japanese rookie Tsunoda impressed throughout the afternoon before pumping out fastest lap after fastest lap in the final hour of the test on the C5, with AlphaTauri likely getting him up to speed with his first qualifying session just a fortnight away.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, clocked a staggering 166 laps – almost three race distances – although was involved in a skirmish with Sainz on the closing in-lap that saw the duo touch and run wide off track.

In terms of laps, Raikkonen was closely matched by Williams’ George Russell [158] who finished sixth quickest ahead of McLaren, who again impressed.

Daniel Ricciardo shadowed Lando Norris’ progress from the morning session with consistently fast lap times to end the day seventh on the timesheet, 1.184s adrift.

Behind Perez, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso added 78 laps and was ninth quickest, while the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc completed the top 10, 1.526s behind Verstappen, albeit on the C3 medium compound.

Sebastian Vettel lost more running time with a “boost pressure” issue that banished his Aston Martin to the garage for the last 90 minutes and led to him sitting 17th of 18 drivers on the timesheet, with only team-mate Lance Stroll behind him, although the Canadian did focus more on long-run work and with his lap on the hard C4 compound.

Sunday Test Times
1 Max Verstappen [Red Bull] 1:28.960 – 64 laps

2 Yuki Tsunoda [Alpha Tauri] 1:29.053 – 91 laps

3 Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] 1:29.611 – 79 laps

4 Kimi Raikkonen [Alfa Romeo] 1:29.766 – 165 laps

5 Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] 1:30.025 – 54 laps

6 George Russell [Williams] 1:30.117 – 158 laps

7 Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] 1:30.144 – 75 laps

8 Sergio Perez [Red Bull] 1:30.187 – 49 laps

9 Fernando Alonso [McLaren] 1:30.318 – 77 laps

10 Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] 1:30.486 – 80 laps

11 Lando Norris [McLaren] 1:30.661 – 56 laps

12 Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] 1:30.828 – 76 laps

13 Esteban Ocon [Alpine] 1:31.310 – 61 laps

14 Nikita Mazepin [Haas] 1:31.531 – 67 laps

15 Mick Schumacher [Haas] 1:32.053 – 78 laps

16 Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] 1:32.406 – 86 laps

17 Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] 1:35.041 – 56 laps

18 Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] 1:36.100 – 80 laps

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