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F1 Russian GP: Hamilton, Rosberg closely matched ahead of qualifying

Lewis Hamilton edges Nico Rosberg during FP3 for the Russian Grand Prix, the Mercedes pair well clear of the Ferraris ahead of qualifying in Sochi
CLICK HERE for the full Russian Grand Prix FP3 times

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg head into qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix with little to choose between one another after ending third free practice at the Sochi Autodrom mere hundredths apart.

Having shared the spoils atop the timesheets in FP1 and FP2 on Friday, Rosberg looked set to get the better of his team-mate with his supersoft lap, only for Hamilton to edge beneath it in the closing seconds with a 1min 36.403s effort, the defending champion just 0.068s quicker.

However, while the Mercedes' are closely matched, Ferrari have work to do ahead of qualifying, with six tenths splitting them from third place Sebastian Vettel – who will take a five place grid penalty after qualifying -, while Kimi Raikkonen was a further seventh tenths back.

Showing an upturn in pace this weekend, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas followed up in fifth and sixth places for Williams, both just two tenths adrift of Raikkonen ahead.

A positive session for the Toro Rosso team with both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz ahead of the Red Bull Racing team in seventh and ninth, the pair sandwiching Jenson Button, once more inside the top ten with his McLaren-Honda.

Sergio Perez completed the top ten, despite an error at the turn 13 right-hander which would see him attempt to turn his Force India around, only beach his VJM09 in the barrier due to the lack of room. Prompting a brief Virtual Safety Car, he wasn't the only driver to commit the same error, with Rosberg and Fernando Alonso running off at the troublesome corner.

Outside the top ten, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were 11th and 13 for Red Bull, with Alonso 12th, while Manor had the boost of seeing both of its cars out-pace the Sauber pair, Rio Haryanto ahead of Pascal Wehrlein.
by Ollie Barstow

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