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Leclerc leads Russell on final morning of Bahrain pre-season test

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Charles Leclerc set the pace as the final day of pre-season testing got under way at the Bahrain International Circuit, putting his Ferrari ahead of Mercedes rival George Russell on the morning timesheets.

Leclerc’s benchmark of 1m 31.024s on the C4 soft compound is the fastest time seen so far this week, and also ensured that Ferrari topped all three morning test sessions in Sakhir.

READ MORE: Who’s driving on Day 3 of pre-season testing in Bahrain

Russell and Mercedes bounced back from their Friday stoppage to place second, some four-tenths adrift of Leclerc, albeit with the side note that they used the softer C5 compound to achieve that time.

Aston Martin put reserve driver Felipe Drugovich back in the car for an extra morning of running, with the reigning F2 champion posting the third-best time on the C5 rubber as the wait goes on to see if Lance Stroll will be fit enough for next week’s season opener.

Red Bull were next on the timing screens as Sergio Perez kicked off a full day in the RB19, using the C3 compound to go fourth, just ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, who also ran medium tyres.

12 day 3 morning

Williams driver Alex Albon followed in sixth position, running the C5s for his best effort, as he also completes a full programme after watching rookie team mate Logan Sargeant rack up laps on Friday.

Nico Hulkenberg had another solid run to P7 for Haas, but there were issues behind for McLaren newcomer Oscar Piastri, who suffered a wild spin through Turn 9 and ruined a set of tyres, and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, who ground to a halt after losing drive and brought out the red flags.

ANALYSIS: Who's winning the midfield battle after Day 2 of testing in Bahrain?

Another rookie for 2023, Nyck de Vries, rounded out the order in the AlphaTauri, as most teams – Red Bull, Williams and Alfa Romeo aside – carry out driver changes for the final session of the week while the sun sets on testing.

Stay tuned to F1 pre-season testing via our dedicated live blog.

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