Rosberg fastest, but Vettel runs Mercedes close in FP3

Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the race weekend so far in free practice three in Spain, but Sebastian Vettel showed Scuderia Ferrari are in with a chance this weekend, ending only a tenth and a half behind.

Rosberg’s first soft tyre run of the day proved to be enough to get him to the top of the time sheets, and although his Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Vettel outpaced him in the first two sectors in later runs, they couldn’t match his time in the final sector.

Rosberg ultimately ended the session on top with a time of 1m23.078s, with team-mate Hamilton second and Vettel in third, the trio just 0.147s apart.

Behind those three Max Verstappen got the better of his new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo for the first time by going just under a tenth faster than him. Kimi Raikkonen could only manage sixth in the second Ferrari, with Valtteri Bottas (Williams Martini Racing) and Sergio Perez (Sahara Force India) behind him.

Elsewhere Daniil Kvyat outpaced Carlos Sainz Jr in his first race weekend back with Scuderia Toro Rosso, the Russian ending ninth to the Spaniard’s thirteenth, while Fernando Alonso gave hope of a Q3 appearance by getting his McLaren-Honda into the top ten for a third consecutive session.

It’s looking like another promising weekend for Rosberg though. A sensor issue towards the end of the session was his only cause for concern, but the team were able to fix it before the end of the hour.

Hamilton meanwhile will be concerned that once again he finds himself behind his team-mate. With the championship gap between the two already large he cannot afford to be behind Rosberg on a track where the pole-sitter goes on to win more often that not.

And with Vettel just behind them, both Mercedes drivers will know that any errors could lead to them not being on the front row of the grid.

Circuit de Catalunya Free Practice 3 Result

16Nico RosbergGERMercedes1m23.078
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1m23.204
35Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1m23.225
433Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull Tag Heuer1m23.719
53Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull Tag Heuer1m23.816
67Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari1m24.110
777Valtteri BottasFINWilliams Mercedes1m24.356
811Sergio PerezMEXForce India Mercedes1m24.472
926Daniil KvyatRUSToro Rosso Ferrari1m24.553
1014Fernando AlonsoSPAMcLaren Honda1m24.555
1127Nico HulkenbergGERForce India Mercedes1m24.585
1219Felipe MassaBRAWilliams Mercedes1m24.621
1355Carlos Sainz JnrSPAToro Rosso Ferrari1m24.695
148Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas Ferrari1m24.981
1522Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren Honda1m25.051
1620Kevin MagnussenDENRenault1m25.100
1721Esteban GutierrezMEXHaas Ferrari1m25.130
1830Jolyon PalmerGBRRenault1m25.376
1912Felipe NasrBRASauber Ferrari1m25.383
209Marcus EricssonSWESauber Ferrari1m25.401
2194Pascal WehrleinGERManor Mercedes1m26.097
2288Rio HaryantoINOManor Mercedes1m26.251