Rosberg sets pace in busy final practice

© XPB 

Nico Rosberg set the pace of a busy final practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix as teams got their first dry running of the weekend.

Wet weather throughout Friday ensured there were no lap times set on slick tyres in the first two practice sessions, leaving the teams with just one hour to work on set-ups before this afternoon's qualifying session. Teams took a number of different approaches to FP3 but all carried out a low fuel run at some stage, with Rosberg setting the benchmark with a 1:33.995.

Lewis Hamilton ensured it was a Mercedes one-two as the team bounced back from its struggles in Singapore, with the championship leader ending up 0.3s slower than his team-mate. However, Mercedes didn't enjoy a major advantage in terms of lap time, with Daniel Ricciardo third and only 0.2s slower than Hamilton.

The Williams pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were fourth and fifth respectively, both getting within a second of Rosberg's best time.

While the two Mercedes drivers had set their best laps with around 20 minutes of the session to go, Ferrari opted to run later in the session despite having already completed laps on the medium tyre. Kimi Raikkonen's best lap left him sixth on the timesheets - a full second slower than Rosberg - while Sebastian Vettel was eighth behind Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen.

Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz completed the top ten as the only other drivers within two seconds of the fastest lap. Sainz was the busiest driver of the session, completing 29 laps in the hour of running available.

McLaren enjoyed a relatively competitive final practice on a circuit unlikely to suit its car, with Jenson Button 12th. However, Fernando Alonso - who was 16th - has previously admitted the team rarely has more performance to exploit when it comes to qualifying compared to its rivals.

While Ricciardo was up in third place, Daniil Kvyat had a scruffy session as he ran wide at Degner and Spoon, while later locking up heavily on hard tyres in to the final chicane and wearing his front right down to the canvas. Kvyat ended the session in 14th place, without a representative medium tyre lap time.

AS IT HAPPENED: Japanese Grand Prix FP3

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01Nico RosbergMercedes1:33.99519
02Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:34.29220
03Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1:34.49722
04Valtteri BottasWilliams1:34.79727
05Felipe MassaWilliams1:34.93425
06Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1:35.08216
07Max VerstappenToro Rosso1:35.16026
08Sebastian VettelFerrari1:35.22216
09Romain GrosjeanLotus1:35.60220
10Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:35.96329
11Nico HulkenbergForce India1:36.11019
12Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:36.17415
13Marcus EricssonSauber1:36.19919
14Daniil KvyatRed Bull1:36.29423
15Pastor MaldonadoLotus1:36.30721
16Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1:36.36018
17Sergio PerezForce India1:36.43021
18Felipe NasrSauber1:36.91924
19Will StevensManor1:39.65324
20Alexander RossiManor1:39.81922