Rosberg closes out Malaysian GP practice fastest

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Nico Rosberg has responded to the pace shown on Friday by Mercedes teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton by finishing fastest in the final free practice session ahead of qualifying later today.

The German driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:39.690 in the latter stages of FP3 on Saturday morning in Malaysia, giving him an advantage of 0.184 seconds over Hamilton in the final classification.

With track temperatures at Sepang hitting 60ºC, all of the drivers and teams faced a challenge to keep their cool in FP3 as the final preparations for qualifying were made.

As usual, most of the teams opted to conduct a number of one-lap simulations in the final one-hour session before going for an optimal time just before the flag fell.

On the prime tire, Rosberg held the edge once again ahead of the two Ferrari drivers as the Italian marque continued its strong start to the race weekend in Malaysia.

The German then followed this up by posting the fastest time on the medium compound tire, edging Hamilton out by less than two-tenths of a second.

Ferrari continued to impress on the quicker tire, though, finishing third and fourth as Kimi Raikkonen led home Sebastian Vettel. Both cars finished within six-tenths of Rosberg’s time, suggesting that Ferrari has indeed made progress since Australia and cut the gap to Mercedes.

Williams will once again be hoping to challenge the Italian team in Malaysia, finishing fifth and sixth with Felipe Massa ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a less stressful session on Saturday to finish seventh as the leading Renault-powered driver in his Red Bull. He was followed by Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen in eighth and ninth, whilst Marcus Ericsson put in an impressive display to finish tenth for Sauber.

Qualifying promises to be a close affair in Malaysia, with Rosberg and Hamilton appearing to have more than each other to contend with at the front of the field.

You can watch qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 5a ET today.