Nico Rosberg was back up in P1 in a damp final practice for the Japanese GP, a session in which Lewis Hamilton was over a second off the pace.
With the track damp following earlier rain, it was a slow start to Saturday’s final practice session for the Japanese GP with just installation laps in the first 15 minutes.
But, with more rain forecast and dark clouds threatening, the action began to pick up with Fernando Alonso posting the day’s first time, a 1:35.935 on the mediums.
Esteban Gutierrez showed that the track conditions were not ideal as he ran wide at Spoon and followed that up with a spin in the Esses.
Mercedes went out and grabbed the 1-2 with Rosberg posting a 1:33.230 to edge Hamilton by 0.054s.
Kimi Raikkonen slotted into third place, 0.360s down, while Daniel Ricciardo was fourth.
Swapping to the soft tyres Rosberg took a second off his time to cross the line with a 1:32.092.
With many of his rivals coming up against traffic – Max Verstappen put it as “cars everywhere, what the f***” – Rosberg’s time proved unbeatable in the final minutes of FP3.
Ricciardo finished second fastest, 0.302s, while Sebastian Vettel was third ahead of Verstappen and Raikkonen. The Finn was the final driver to get within a second of Rosberg’s P1 time.
Felipe Massa made a late improvement to go sixth while Hamilton was purple in the first sector before he had to back off in the middle. He was P7, 1.192s down.
Jolyon Palmer, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten.
1 Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.092 14 laps
2 Ricciardo Red Bull 1:32.394 10 laps
3 Vettel Ferrari 1:32.731 13 laps
4 Verstappen Red Bull 1:32.784 9 laps
5 Raikkonen Ferrari 1:33.011 12 laps
6 Massa Williams 1:33.271 13 laps
7 Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.284 12 laps
8 Palmer Renault 1:33.639 13 laps
9 Magnussen Renault 1:33.639 10 laps
10 Hulkenberg Force India 1:33.646 11 laps
11 Alonso McLaren 1:33.714 12 laps
12 Gutiérrez Haas 1:33.787 16 laps
13 Bottas Williams 1:33.865 9 laps
14 Perez Force India 1:33.921 11 laps
15 Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:34.037 12 laps
16 Grosjean Haas 1:34.272 13 laps
17 Nasr Sauber 1:34.388 12 laps
18 Ericsson Sauber 1:34.544 13 laps
19 Button McLaren 1:34.548 11 laps
20 Ocon Manor 1:35.230 13 laps
21 Wehrlein Manor 1:37.256 10 laps
22 Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso1:56.323 3 laps