RESULTS: Japanese Grand Prix – Free practice results (3)
Nico Rosberg heads into qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix having completed a clean sweep at the top of the timesheets in third and final free practice at Suzuka, though Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen were prevented from showing their true pace.
A session that began damp after overnight rain but would be dry by its conclusion, the ever-improving track conditions would see most teams wait until the final minutes to set their soft tyre laps, making traffic an issue for many.
There was to be no such troubles for Rosberg though, who powered to a 1min 32.092secs lap to top FP3 having also been quickest in Friday's FP1 and FP2 sessions.
Having had his soft tyre run scuppered in FP2, Daniel Ricciardo gave a first glimpse of his potential form in the Red Bull with a strong run to second, three tenths behind pace setter Rosberg and four tenths up on Sebastian Vettel in third place.
Hampered by traffic, Max Verstappen was fourth fastest, ahead of an irritated Kimi Raikkonen, who posted the fastest sector one time only to run wide at Degner 1 when trying to overtake a touring Renault. Similarly, Hamilton had to abort his fastest lap after running wide at Degner 2 and taking a trio across the still slippery Astroturf, consigning him to seventh fastest behind Felipe Massa in the Williams.
Setting exactly the same time as they made a surprise appearance up in eighth and ninth, Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen were impressive for Renault, heading off leading Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso in the best of the McLarens in 11th.
Elsewhere, Esteban Gutierrez was a spinner after getting it wrong towards the end of the S Curves and losing it on the wet grass, while Carlos Sainz failed to set a representative time after his Toro Rosso developed a problem early on.
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