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

1 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 1:32.092 14
2 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:32.394 +0.302s 10
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:32.731 +0.639s 13
4 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:32.784 +0.692s 9
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:33.011 +0.919s 12
6 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:33.271 +1.179s 13
7 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:33.284 +1.192s 12
8 30 Jolyon Palmer RENAULT 1:33.639 +1.547s 13
9 20 Kevin Magnussen RENAULT 1:33.639 +1.547s 10
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:33.646 +1.554s 11
11 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 1:33.714 +1.622s 12
12 21 Esteban Gutierrez HAAS FERRARI 1:33.787 +1.695s 16
13 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:33.865 +1.773s 9
14 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:33.921 +1.829s 11
15 26 Daniil Kvyat TORO ROSSO FERRARI 1:34.037 +1.945s 12
16 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:34.272 +2.180s 13
17 12 Felipe Nasr SAUBER FERRARI 1:34.388 +2.296s 12
18 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:34.544 +2.452s 13
19 22 Jenson Button MCLAREN HONDA 1:34.548 +2.456s 11
20 31 Esteban Ocon MRT MERCEDES 1:35.230 +3.138s 13
21 94 Pascal Wehrlein MRT MERCEDES 1:37.256 +5.164s 10
22 55 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO FERRARI 1:56.323 +24.231s 3