F1 - Rosberg stays in control in final practice in Germany as rivals close in | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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F1 - Rosberg stays in control in final practice in Germany as rivals close in

FIA, Motorsport, Mobility, Road Safety, F1, WRC, WEC, WTCC, World RX

Nico Rosberg maintained his grip at the top of the practice timesheets for his home race, the German Grand Prix, though the Mercedes driver’s Friday advantage over his rivals was slashed to less than a tenth of a second as both team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo closed in.

Through both Friday practice sessions, Rosber had enjoyed a better than three tenths of a second cushion to Hamilton but this morning both Hamilton and Ricciardo found more pace to put the German under pressure ahead of qualifying.

Hamilton seized the initiative early in the session, posting a P1 time of 1:16.015, a tenth ahead of Rosberg as both focused on running on the supersoft Pirelli tyre.

The Briton’s time remained the benchmark until 20 minutes from the end of the session when the current championship leader set a new target of 1:15.795.

Rosberg, though, soon found his more time and he posted a lap of 1:15.738, a session best time, 0.057 up on Hamilton, that would hold until the chequered flag.

Behind the Mercedes drivers it was Daniel Ricciardo making the biggest improvement. In the FP2 laps run on the supersoft tyre the Australian was some eight tenths of a second off Rosberg’s best, but this morning he quickly began to make inroads on the gap to Mercedes, initially on the soft tyre.

After an installation lap, Ricciardo remained in pit lane until there were just 25 minutes left on the clock and utilising the soft tyre he jumped to P8 and then P6 with a lap of 1:16.763.

That was a full second down of then fastest man Hamilton. However, the Mercedes driver had set that time on supersoft tyres and Ricciardo was on the softs, reckoned by Pirelli to be well over a second slowe than the red-banded tyres.

The Red Bull driver proved the worth of that assessment with five minutes left on the clock. With neither Mercedes driver improving, Ricciardo set a personal best in sector one and then a session-best time in the second sector before ultimately backing off in the final sector as he was slowed by traffic.

Despite being hampered, the Red Bull driver’s time of 1:15.837 was still good enough for P3, just 0.099 behind Rosberg.

Behind Ricciardo, Ferrari were also on march. Kimi Raikkonen took fourth place with a time of 1:15.902 to sit six hundredths of a second adrift of Ricciardo. Sebastian Vettel too closed in, taking fifth place, a tenth of a second behind his team-mate.

Sixth place went to the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen, though the Dutch driver set his quickest time early on and then spent the bulk of the session focusing on a long run. 

The Williams pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa took seventh and eighth places respectively, though Bottas was almost seven tenths behind Rosberg. Behind them Fernando Alonso was ninth for McLaren ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India.

There was trouble in the session for Romain Grosjean who suffered gearbox problems halfway through and the Haas driver looks set to take a five-place grid penalty for a change of unit ahead of qualifying.

Hamilton was also left facing possible qualifying woes after he was sent into the path of Grosjean in pit lane causing the Frenchman to come to a stop. Hamilton was put under investigation for the alleged unsafe release.

2016 German Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:15.738 16
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.795 19
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:15.837 13
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:15.902 16
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:16.104 20
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:16.182 23
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:16.400 28
8 Felipe Massa Williams 1:16.630 26
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:16.916 11
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:16.972 16
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:17.028 20
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1:17.066 10
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:17.160 17
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:17.227 19
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:17.351 9
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:17.473 23
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:17.685 19
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:18.057 24
19 Jenson Button McLaren 1:18.093 6
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:18.270 24
21 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:18.272 18
22 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:25.160 4