Valtteri Bottas closed out Formula 1 practice for the Japanese Grand Prix leading the way for Mercedes despite crashing out after just 20 minutes of FP3 on Saturday morning.

Most teams opted to alter their usual FP3 programmes in reaction to the rain-affected running on Friday, with Mercedes not pushing on qualifying simulations through the session.

Bottas was able to turn in a best lap time of 1:29.055 on the soft compound tyre, but saw his session come to an early end after running wide at Spoon and hitting the wall, damaging the right-hand side of his car.

With debris strewn across the track, the stewards opted to red flag the session, eventually returning to green after 10 minutes when the marshals had cleared the area.

A second red flag followed not long after when Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen hit the barrier exiting Degner 2, leaving both of the title-chasing teams in 2017 with repair work to complete ahead of qualifying later in the day.

The Finns' title-fighting teammates, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, were expected to push on qualifying simulations towards the end of the session, but neither pushed to beat Bottas' time.

Hamilton was able to finish just 0.014 seconds behind Bottas, having also posted his time on the soft tyre at a similar time to his teammate, while Vettel was three-tenths of a second back after failing to improve with a late run on the super-soft tyre.

Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth and fifth respectively, both within a second of the headline time, while Esteban Ocon led the midfielders in P6 for Force India.

Nico Hulkenberg took seventh for Renault ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso, while Sergio Perez and Jolyon Palmer rounded out the top 10 in FP3.

Qualifying takes place at 3pm local time at Suzuka (7am BST).



Loading Comments...