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Lewis Hamilton heads into qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix on course to halt Nico Rosberg's run of pole positions after defying both technical issues and a spin to top third free practice.

Having ended the first day of free practice action around the Interlagos circuit almost half-a-second behind his Mercedes team-mate, Hamilton's Saturday didn't get off to the best of starts as 'gearing' issues stopped him off track briefly, before he marked his return to track shortly afterwards with a wild spin at turn nine.

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Despite this, Hamilton's final run on the option tyres were enough to leapfrog Rosberg to the top of the timesheets by just over a tenth, the two Mercedes drivers once again putting clear air between themselves and the competition.

As ever, Sebastian Vettel bridged the gap for Ferrari, six tenths off the top spot but a comfortable four tenths up on fourth place Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Building on the encouraging Friday pace of the Williams, Valtteri Bottas was two tenths further back in fifth place, though his anticipated Ferrari challenge will be hindered by his impending three-place grid penalty for overtaking under red flags during FP2.

A strong session for the Mercedes-powered contingent, Force India and Lotus filled positions six to nine, Nico Hulkenberg leading Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado, with Max Verstappen the best of the Renault-powered cars in tenth position for Toro Rosso.

Outside the top ten, Daniel Ricciardo was 11th fastest, ahead of Felipe Massa in the Williams, the local hero continuing to struggle with set-up around his home venue.

Having missed much of FP2 following an Honda problem, Fernando Alonso was back on track in FP3 with a new engine to go 14th quickest, though Jenson Button was down in 18th.