Nico Rosberg has sent out a statement of intent ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix by completing a clean sweep in practice and topping the third and final session on Saturday morning.
Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:10.446 to edge out his Mercedes teammate and championship rival in the final classification by one-tenth of a second, continuing his form from Friday that saw him finish fastest in both FP1 and FP2.
Overnight rain had washed away much of the rubber that had been laid down during practice on Friday, meaning that grip levels were low once again. At the start of the session, a number of drivers enjoyed off-track excursions including Hamilton and defending world champion Sebastian Vettel as the first runs on the medium tire were completed.
Both Mercedes drivers opted to bide their time and focus on race runs on the prime compound, ranking towards the bottom of the timesheets as the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas set the pace.
Once Rosberg and Hamilton made the switch to the soft tire though, the usual status quo was restored as both drivers dipped below the record pole position time set by Rubens Barrichello at Interlagos ten years ago.
Massa and Bottas managed to keep up their good pace to finish third and fourth for Williams ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull. In what could be his penultimate F1 race, Jenson Button finished sixth ahead of the two Ferrari drivers, with Fernando Alonso having to bring his session to an early end due to a lack of power on his engine.
Once again though, it was Rosberg on top, suggesting that he will be the man to beat in qualifying later today. However, as he proved himself in Austin, just because you trail in practice means very little when it comes to qualifying, and if rain does fall, Hamilton will be gunning to deny his teammate back-to-back poles.
You can join us for qualifying live on CNBC at 11a ET today.