Nico Rosberg finished Saturday morning practice with the quickest time as Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS dominated again at Sepang.
The German driver was quickest during the early stages when teams concentrated on using the Hard Pirelli tyres, and was then able to return to the top when drivers switched to the Medium Pirelli tyres for qualifying simulations late in the session.
His Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton was only fourth on the Hard tyres, but jumped up into second place on the Mediums, 0.183s adrift of the time set by Rosberg, with the Briton joining a chorus of drivers complaining about grip levels. Hamilton’s session was also hindered by his brakes, saying they were ‘all over the place’.
Kimi Raikkonen once again had the advantage over his Scuderia Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel, with the Finn finishing third, 0.021s faster than the German, although more than half a second behind the leading Mercedes.
The two Williams Martini Racing drivers of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were even closer together in fifth and sixth, finishing just 0.015s apart, and are likely to be in the battle with Ferrari for third place on the grid during qualifying.
Daniel Ricciardo was seventh for Infiniti Red Bull Racing, just ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso duo of Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen, while Marcus Ericsson completed the top ten for the Sauber F1 Team.
The Lotus F1 Team duo of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were just outside the top ten, ahead of a struggling Daniil Kvyat in the second Red Bull, who requested the team go back to a previous set-up mid-session after finding the new set-up not to his liking.
Nico Hulkenberg was fourteenth in the leading Sahara Force India, who have found it hard this weekend so far to get within two seconds of the ultimate pace. He just got ahead of the McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso, who was fifteenth, ahead of the second Force India of Sergio Perez. Felipe Nasr was seventeenth for Sauber ahead of Jenson Button’s McLaren.
The two Manor F1 Team drivers were at the back in FP3, with Roberto Merhi ahead of Will Stevens despite a spin. Both drivers will have a task to get into the race during qualifying, with both of them flouting the 107% rule all weekend. Merhi’s time in FP3 would have seen him qualify by just a fraction of a second.
Qualifying takes place later today, with the chance of rain a real possibility.
2015 Malaysian Grand Prix Free Practice 3 Times
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m40.590s|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m40.601s|
|9||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m40.989s|
|13||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m41.775s|
|14||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||1m41.804s|
|16||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||1m42.099s|