FP3: Normal service resumes

After the blip that was Singapore, Mercedes were back setting the pace in a frantic final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

With more sunshine than clouds about, it was an extremely busy start to final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Making up for lost time following a wet Friday, there was not only a mix of strategies – qualifying and race – but also tyres – hard and medium – throughout the session.

Daniel Ricciardo, on the mediums, led the way with a 1:34.755, a full second ahead of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, who were on the hard tyres.

Such was the franetic start that after 20 minutes half the field were already into double figures for the lap counts.

As more drivers swapped to the mediums and took fuel out of the cars, Bottas went quickest but it was a brief foray into P1 as he was pipped by Ricciard.

This time around the Aussie clocked a 1:34.497.

But with the Mercedes drivers changing their strategy to medium tyres and lower fuel it was only a matter of time before they claimed the 1-2.

Nico Rosberg was the first out, a 1:33.995 for the German, while Hamilton slotted into second place, 0.297s down on his team-mate.

Ricciardo finished third ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. The trio were the only drivers to get within a second of Rosberg's time.

Kimi Raikkonen was sixth ahead of Max Verstappen, who had another solid session, and Sebastian Vettel.

Times
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.995 20 laps
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.292 0.297 20 laps
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:34.497 0.502 23 laps
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:34.797 0.802 27 laps
5 Felipe Massa Williams 1:34.934 0.939 25 laps
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:35.082 1.087 16 laps
7 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:35.160 1.165 26 laps
8 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:35.222 1.227 16 laps
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:35.602 1.607 20 laps
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:35.963 1.968 30 laps
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:36.110 2.115 20 laps
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:36.174 2.179    15 laps
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:36.199 2.204 19 laps
14 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:36.294 2.299  24 laps
15 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:36.307 2.312 21 laps
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:36.360 2.365 18 laps
17 Sergio Perez Force India 1:36.430  2.435 21 laps
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:36.919 2.924 24 laps
19 Will Stevens Manor 1:39.653 5.658 24 laps
20 Alexander Rossi Manor 1:39.819 5.824 22 laps

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