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Lewis Hamilton kept Mercedes atop the timesheets in the third and final free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix, albeit just seven hundredths ahead of the ever-looming Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
Despite an off at turn one early in the session, Hamilton's soft tyre run in the closing stages would see him stop the clock at 1min 34.599secs, his effort proving just good enough to put him on top ahead of qualifying later this evening.
Indeed, though Mercedes predicted a challenge from Ferrari in race conditions after Friday free practice, it could yet still face a challenge in qualifying after Vettel went just 0.069secs shy of the top spot with his best lap.
Nico Rosberg might have stood to be closer to the front but for a scruffy first sector that would leave him three tenths off the top spot by the chequered flag, while Kimi Raikkonen was also cast adrift, half a second down on the ultimate pace.
Williams resumed its place as 'best of the rest' in fifth and sixth positions, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa a respective seven and eight tenths behind the leader, while Pastor Maldonado continued his positive weekend with the seventh fastest time for Lotus.
Indeed, the competition remains close in the midfield, with just eight tenths covering Maldonado in seventh down to 18th, while the gulf in performance on the two sets of rubber looks set to make the early stages of qualifying something of a strategic lottery for the likes of Lotus, Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Force India, McLaren and Sauber
Despite managing just eight laps all session, Daniel Ricciardo was fast enough for eighth when he eventually emerged, the Australian faring considerably better than team-mate Daniil Kvyat after the Russian spun on the exit of turn four, beaching his Red Bull in the gravel trap.
Nico Hulkenberg lifted Force India into the top ten in ninth place, ahead of leading Sauber driver Felipe Nasr, while Jenson Button doubled his lap count for the weekend en route to the 11th best time.