Rosberg paces third practice in Japan

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A damp, drying track limited running for most runners in third practice for the Japanese Grand Prix. Regardless of the condition, Nico Rosberg was quickest again, the Mercedes AMG Petronas driver on top for the third session in a row.

It was only in the final few minutes of the 60-minute session when the track was dry enough to run Pirelli’s yellow banded soft tires that times were at their quickest.

The German’s best time this session looked to be a 1:33.230, just 0.254 of a second clear of teammate Lewis Hamilton. Both drivers set their fastest times on Pirelli’s white banded medium tires.

But then in the waning stages, Rosberg threw a set of soft tires on and went a second quicker, to 1:32.092. That was quicker than his best time in FP2 yesterday of 1:32.250 at the Suzuka International Circuit.

Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen all got into the 1:32 range behind Rosberg, and Kimi Raikkonen was also within a second to end P5.

Felipe Massa, Hamilton, the two Renaults of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen in an impressive session for them and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10. The top six times were on softs, with Hamilton best on the mediums in seventh.

Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez survived an early spin and reversal of his car at the Esses to get up to sixth late in the session when on softs, although dropped down to 12th in the waning moments as others clocked faster times on the softs.

Carlos Sainz Jr. didn’t get much running for Scuderia Toro Rosso and without a representative lap time, ended in the back of the field.

You can watch qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix from 2 a.m. ET/11 p.m. PT on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App.