Rosberg leads Hamilton in final Suzuka practice

After seeing the Friday running hampered by rain at Suzuka, a dry track greeted the drivers for the Saturday morning practice session, and Nico Rosberg set the pace for the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team.

The German driver led a Mercedes 1-2 ahead of championship leader Lewis Hamilton; Rosberg’s time of 1m33.995s was 0.297s clear of his British team-mate, as drivers made up for lost time.

Daniel Ricciardo was the best of the rest in third, but the popular Australian was more than half a second adrift in his Infiniti Red Bull Racing entry, while Valtteri Bottas placed fourth for Williams Martini Racing, just ahead of his team-mate Felipe Massa.

Kimi Raikkonen was down in sixth for Scuderia Ferrari, but his time of 1m35.082s was more than a second down on the pace of Rosberg up front, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel was only eighth, separated by the Scuderia Toro Rosso of teenager Max Verstappen.

Romain Grosjean brought his Lotus F1 Team entry into the top ten, finishing ninth fastest, while the second Toro Rosso of Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr completed the top ten.

Nico Hulkenberg was just outside the top ten for the Sahara Force India team, with Jenson Button an encouraging twelfth for McLaren-Honda, just ahead of Marcus Ericsson of the Sauber F1 Team.

Daniil Kvyat had a disappointing session in the second Red Bull, more than 1.7s slower than team-mate Ricciardo, and ran wide at both the Spoon and Degner curves and ending fourteenth fastest.

Pastor Maldonado was fifteenth in the second Lotus ahead of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, while Sergio Perez was down in seventeenth for Force India ahead of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber.

As usual, the two Manor F1 Team drivers were at the back, with Will Stevens on this occasion getting the better of team-mate Alexander Rossi, with the Briton 0.116s faster than the American.

Suzuka Free Practice 3 Result

16Nico RosbergGERMercedes1m33.995s
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1m34.292s
33Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Renault1m34.497s
477Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes1m34.797s
519Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes1m34.934s
67Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari1m35.082s
733Max VerstappenNEDToro Rosso-Renault1m35.160s
85Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1m35.222s
98Romain GrosjeanFRALotus-Mercedes1m35.602s
1055Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault1m35.963s
1127Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes1m36.110s
1222Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda1m36.174s
139Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari1m36.199s
1426Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull-Renault1m36.294s
1513Pastor MaldonadoVENLotus-Mercedes1m36.307s
1614Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda1m36.360s
1711Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes1m36.430s
1812Felipe NasrBRZSauber-Ferrari1m36.919s
1928Will StevensGBRManor-Ferrari1m39.653s
2053Alexander RossiUSAManor-Ferrari1m39.819s