SAKIR, Bahrain—Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez might had to wait a day to get into his car for pre-formula one testing, but the Mexican proved Saturday at the Sakir International Circuit that the wait was worth it by posting a 1:30:305 fastest time in the final day before the season opener next weekend.

There might have been talk about the AMG Mercedes having a problem with handling and hydraulics the other day, but the scheduled “Emergency meeting” must have worked, because Lewis Hamilton took the second-best time behind Perez, 0.059 seconds of a gap between the two drivers.

Valtteri Bottas finished in third with his Alfa Romeo, just in front of the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, with Yuki Tsunoda sixth with an improving Alpha Tauri. Another driver who came up following being down in the grid was the Haas F1 of Kevin Magnussen, who took seventh.

Ferrari had their two drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz (above) always close to each other, proving that the two are evenly matched. PA photo

George Russell completed the more improved day of testing for Mercedes, further down the order from his teammate in eighth with the next two placings belonging to the duo at Aston Martin, as Fernando Alonso, who had been in the top three in the first two days of testing, now finished in ninth. Team tester for the Silverstone-based unit, Felipe Drugovich, subbing for Lance Stroll, rounded out the top ten finishers.

Lando Norris took 11th but had one of the strangest incident of the day as his McLaren wheel brows detached from the car. However, the team stated that the incident was very minor, and that the situation will be fixed by the time the season opens next week.

The Alpine pair of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon swapped drives in the morning and afternoon, respectively, as both Frenchman took 12thand 14th places. Alex Albon finished in this same trio of drivers in 13th, taking a huge number of laps in his Williams.

The final three in the order were Nico Hulkenberg in the Haas F1 in 15th; McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in 16thafter spinning out early in the morning; and Alpha Tauri’s Nyck de Vries in 17th, completing the testing order.

Williams American rookie Logan Sargeant, second day winner Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo and Two-time world champion Dutchman Max Verstappen took the day off as the drivers now completed three days of testing and look forward to the beginning of the first race next weekend, which will be a night race, the first of four in the season.

By Mark Gero

Kevin Magnussen finally found his rhythm in his Haas, placing seventh on the final day of testing. Planet F1 photo