Alonso quickest in final Bahrain practice

Fernando Alonso unleashed the pace of his Ferrari in final practice for tomorrow's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. New Maclaren-Mercedes teammates Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton came seventh and twelfth respectively.

The double Formula One world champion lapped the Sakhir circuit in one minute 54.099 seconds on Saturday, 0.269 quicker than the Mercedes of Germany's Nico Rosberg and 0.401 ahead of Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber.

Spaniard Alonso is making his Ferrari race debut in Bahrain after switching from Renault, where he won his two titles.

Former Ferrari great and seven times world champion Michael Schumacher, making his comeback with Mercedes at the age of 41, limbered up for his first qualifying session since 2006 with the fourth quickest time.

There was bad news for Indian Karun Chandhok, who again failed to get on track with the new Hispania (HRT) team after the car suffered a further hydraulics problem.

The rookie has yet to drive the car after missing yesterday's sessions and it was not immediately clear whether he would be allowed to race.

Brazilian team mate Bruno Senna, nephew of the late triple champion Ayrton, did get out for 11 laps and was 9.9 seconds off the pace.

Germany's Timo Glock was quickest of those driving for the new teams, despite a wheel coming off his Virgin with Senna right behind, and was 5.074 seconds slower than Alonso.

Third Session: times

1. Fernando Alonso, Spain, Ferrari, 1 minute, 54.099 seconds, 14 laps, 198.743 kph (123.493 mph).

2. Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes GP, 1:54.368, 13.

3. Mark Webber, Australia, Red Bull, 1:54.500, 15.

4. Michael Schumacher, Germany, Mercedes GP, 1:54.533, 13.

5. Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Red Bull, 1:54.646, 16.

6. Felipe Massa, Brazil, Ferrari, 1:54.739, 14.

7. Jenson Button, Britain, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:55.000, 14.

8. Robert Kubica, Poland, Renault, 1:55.331, 15.

9. Tonio Liuzzi, Italy, Force India, 1:55.432, 11.

10. Nico Hulkenberg, Germany, Williams, 1:55.461, 13.

11. Adrian Sutil, Germany, Force India, 1:55.521, 13.

12. Lewis Hamilton, Britain, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:55.860, 8.

13. Pedro De la Rosa, Spain, Sauber, 1:56.063, 14.

14. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Williams, 1:56.259, 15.

15. Sebastien Buemi, Switzerland, Toro Rosso, 1:56.295, 17.

16. Jaime Alguersuari, Spain, Toro Rosso, 1:56.504, 16.

17. Kamui Kobayashi, Japan, Sauber, 1:56.530, 14.

18. Vitaly Petrov, Russia, Renault, 1:56.811, 16.

19. Timo Glock, Germany, Virgin Racing, 1:59.173, 10.

20. Heikki Kovalainen, Finland, Lotus, 1:59.789, 15.

21. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Lotus, 2:01.259, 5.

22. Bruno Senna, Brazil, Hispania Racing, 2:04.001