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Malaysian Grand Prix: Mercedes displays true pace in final F1 practice

Mercedes dominated FP3 for the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton a second clear of the field
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Mercedes dominated FP3 for the Malaysian Grand Prix as it finally showed its true pace at Sepang.

After a very close second practice session on Friday hinted at a competitive qualifying session, Nico Rosberg set the fastest time with a 1:39.008 as both Mercedes finished a second clear of the rest of the field as the only two teams able to get below the 1m40s mark. Kimi Raikkonen was third – continuing his strong weekend – but his best time of 1:40.156 was over 1.1s off Rosberg's pace.

Sebastian Vettel was fourth quickest with a late lap on medium tyres but still 1.3s off the pace, just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg's Force India. Daniel Ricciardo was sixth as the Red Bull looked reliable and relatively competitive, but the gap to the Mercedes will be a concern.

Williams was also unable to challenge Mercedes over one lap, with Felipe Massa eighth and Valtteri Bottas ninth – both nearly two seconds slower than Rosberg – as the team sees its early strong pace threaten to disappear already.

It was a bad session for McLaren, with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen completing just nine laps between them. Button did set a time – but 26 seconds off the pace – while Magnussen failed to register one, with the team yet to confirm what the issue was.

Lotus fared little better, with Romain Grosjean saying “there is no performance, the rear end is a disaster” as he struggled to 15th fastest and suffered a trip across the gravel at Turn 11 late on. Team-mate Pastor Maldonado also went off at Turn 1, with both cars struggling massively under braking for the first corner, locking up repeatedly.

Caterham also struggled for substantial mileage after its power unit issues on Friday, with Marcus Ericsson managing 12 laps but appearing to lose a piece of bodywork when closing his DRS on the main straight. Kamui Kobayashi completed seven laps – giving him 12 in total throughout all three practice sessions – but was seven seconds off the pace.

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