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Nico Rosberg will take a slender edge into what promises to be a keenly-contested qualifying session for the Mexican Grand Prix as he maintained his place at the top of the timesheets in third free practice, just 0.014secs ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Having set the pace on a tricky first day around the revamped Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez – which is hosting its first F1 event for 23 years this weekend -, Rosberg was again the driver to beat on soft tyres, stopping the clock at 1min 21.083secs.
Though slippery initially following overnight rain, improving track conditions would see drivers take chunks out of their best laps over the course of the hour, with Rosberg proving the most consistent as he worked down his time, doing just enough to keep Hamilton at bay by a mere 0.014secs.
Indeed, qualifying looks set to be one of the closest of the season, with just two tenths covering the top four of Rosberg, Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, while less than a second makes up the top ten.
With Daniil Kvyat complementing third place Ricciardo in fifth – despite a spin at turn six -, Red Bull confirmed it will be capable of getting amongst the leading fight later today, while local fans will be holding out hope that Sergio Perez can match his FP3 form when it matters after the home hero hauled the Force India up to a strong sixth place.
Valtteri Bottas continued to lead the Williams challenge in seventh position, ahead of leading Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz – who endured more than one off in the session -, Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg, while Max Verstappen was also within a second of the top spot in 11th as he made up for lost time following his FP2 crash.
Elsewhere, Kimi Raikkonen heads into qualifying on the back foot – and facing a possible grid penalty - after his Ferrari developed power unit issues, stopping him on track 30mins into the session.
Already consigned to the back of the grid with his own penalties, Jenson Button – who has missed much of free practice on Friday - was also left on the sidelines yet again with more problems on the McLaren-Honda, while team-mate Fernando Alonso couldn't maintain the team's promising FP2 pace down in 15th position.