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Mercedes has reasserted its authority over the competition heading into qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton comfortably fastest in the first dry session of the weekend at Suzuka.

After FP1 and FP2 was blighted by persistent rain, the teams had just an hour's worth of dry running to prepare themselves for qualifying later today, with each running a variety of tyre and fuel strategies to make up for lost time.

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However, it was Mercedes that would emerge quickest on the option rubber, Rosberg posting the only lap to dip below 1min 34secs with a 1min 33.995secs lap, almost three tenths faster than title-rivalling team-mate Hamilton as the W06 looks to have recovered its lost form from Singapore a week ago.

Daniel Ricciardo showed plenty of commitment in the early stages to lead the timesheets initially, his best nonetheless good enough for third in the Red Bull, three tenths ahead of the Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, the Williams' coming to the fore in FP3.

By contrast, Ferrari left it late to complete their fast option tyre runs, but Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel could only manage sixth and eighth on the timesheets, the pair split by leading Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen.

Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz rounded out the top ten for Lotus and Toro Rosso, ahead of leading Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button, the Englishman a solid 12th best despite complaining of understeer in the McLaren.