Nico Rosberg has finished fastest in the final practice session for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
The Mercedes driver put in a best lap of 1:17.779 to finish nearly six-tenths of a second clear of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who only narrowly beat Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso into second place. Felipe Massa finished fourth for Williams, with teammate Valtteri Bottas in fifth.
FP3 began in hot and sunny conditions, allowing drivers to run freely without keeping one eye on the weather. McLaren was the first team to put in a serious effort, and was testing the car with new gear ratios after using its ‘joker’ change overnight. Kevin Magnussen duly set the pace to begin with, but Bottas managed to overhaul the Dane at the top of the timesheets with Massa soon following suit to slot into second place.
Mercedes opted not to push on the prime tire during the first half of the session, with Rosberg and Hamilton lying sixth and sixteenth respectively following their initial runs. Kimi Raikkonen put in a good lap for Ferrari to go fourth, only to be told to pit due to a problem on his F14 T. Fernando Alonso’s pace was also stunted when he spun at turn eight after locking up, damaging his tires. Hamilton lost a quick lap in the same place, but managed to avoid spinning.
Ferrari soon resolved the issue on Raikkonen’s car, allowing him to head out on the super-soft tire and go fastest of all at the halfway point in the session. The rest of the field opted to save their fastest run until the final few minutes of the session, which saw a flurry of times come in.
Alonso was the first to beat Raikkonen’s time, going fastest by four-tenths of a second with eight minutes remaining. Rosberg soon took Mercedes back to the top with his first run on the super-soft tire, pulling out another six-tenths despite a twitchy moment heading through the second to last corner.
Early leaders Massa and Bottas moved into third and fourth place respectively behind Rosberg and Alonso, but Lewis Hamilton soon got in the mix with his first flying lap. The Briton moved into second behind his teammate, and could not overhaul him before the checkered flag fell.
Although the gap may be large, there is no doubt that the battle will rage on between Hamilton and Rosberg this weekend. You can join us for live qualifying from Hockenheim at 8am ET on CNBC and Live Extra.