nico rosberg f1 grand prix japan

Suzuka FP3: Rosberg tops amid the road rage

nico rosberg f1 grand prix japan

Nico Rosberg posted the quickest time in Saturday’s final free practice ahead of a frustrated Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes flexed their muscles for Japanese qualifying.

The German clocked 1:32.092 seconds under menacingly dark clouds in Suzuka as his the world champion was hampered by heavy traffic during his hot lap run.

Hamilton slipped to seventh while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who inherited victory last weekend after the Briton’s engine caught fire, was second quickest, three tenths adrift of Rosberg’s time.

Sebastian Vettel was third fastest, ahead of the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen and Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Rosberg has never won the Japanese Grand Prix but has been quickest so far all weekend, compounding Hamilton’s problems after the triple world champion was robbed of victory in Malaysia last Sunday by an engine fire.

Hamilton, who will be chasing a hat-trick of Suzuka wins on Sunday, has been criticised since then after hinting that he may have been the victim of sabotage by his Mercedes team.

daniel ricciardo f1

He was feeling the heat again in FP3, complaining that one side of his car felt hot before completing his flying lap.

Meanwhile, tempers frayed as frustrated drivers got held up by traffic late in the session.

Raikkonen got hot and bothered in a classic case of road rage after being held up by Kevin Magnussen’s dawdling Renault, fuming over the radio: “That fucking Renault was in the middle of the road!”

Verstappen also swore as he tried to weave around slower cars, barking: “Cars everywhere, what the fuck!”

Rosberg, looking for his fourth win in five races this weekend, looks the man to beat but will be mindful that he squandered pole position here last year after a dashing move from Hamilton at the first corner.

Hamilton, whose focus has been called into question this week, is reverting to the engine he used in Singapore this weekend after his third power unit failure of the year in Malaysia.

Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka – Saturday, Free Practice 3

16Nico RosbergMERCEDES1:32.09214
23Daniel RicciardoRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER1:32.394+0.302s10
35Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:32.731+0.639s13
433Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER1:32.784+0.692s9
57Kimi RäikkönenFERRARI1:33.011+0.919s12
619Felipe MassaWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:33.271+1.179s13
744Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:33.284+1.192s12
830Jolyon PalmerRENAULT1:33.639+1.547s13
920Kevin MagnussenRENAULT1:33.639+1.547s10
1027Nico HulkenbergFORCE INDIA MERCEDES1:33.646+1.554s11
1114Fernando AlonsoMCLAREN HONDA1:33.714+1.622s12
1221Esteban GutierrezHAAS FERRARI1:33.787+1.695s16
1377Valtteri BottasWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:33.865+1.773s9
1411Sergio PerezFORCE INDIA MERCEDES1:33.921+1.829s11
1526Daniil KvyatTORO ROSSO FERRARI1:34.037+1.945s12
168Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:34.272+2.180s13
1712Felipe NasrSAUBER FERRARI1:34.388+2.296s12
189Marcus EricssonSAUBER FERRARI1:34.544+2.452s13
1922Jenson ButtonMCLAREN HONDA1:34.548+2.456s11
2031Esteban OconMRT MERCEDES1:35.230+3.138s13
2194Pascal WehrleinMRT MERCEDES1:37.256+5.164s10
2255Carlos SainzTORO ROSSO FERRARI1:56.323+24.231s3