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Alonso fastest at Bahrain practice

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SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP)

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso recovered from a spin Saturday to post the fastest lap in the third and final Formula One practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Looking for his second consecutive victory after ending a 12-race drought in China last weekend, Alonso completed a lap in 1:33.247 to finish 0.101 head of three-time defending F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.

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Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was third fastest, with Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen finishing fourth.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was given a five-grid penalty after the third session, in which he finished fifth, for changing his gear box before qualifying.

The Mercedes team announced the penalty on Twitter. The setback is a further headache for Hamilton. He has struggled with the hot and sandy conditions in practice, finishing no higher than 10th in the first two sessions and then damaging his rear left tire at the end of the third.

The Briton has had a surprisingly successful start in his first season at Mercedes after joining from McLaren. He has finished on the podium in the past two races and also won pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix.

A different driver has topped the three sessions in Bahrain, suggesting a wide open race Sunday that has been overshadowed by anti-government protesters who are demanding a greater say in the divided Gulf nation.

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