Malaysian GP |Rosberg holds the lead going into qualifying, after topping FP3 from second place Hamilton

Rosberg heads the way once again after topping the final free practice session for the Malaysia Grand Prix.

As the drivers and teams prepared for qualifying, Nico Rosberg found the fastest lap once again to finish in P1. The German was followed on the timesheet by his team mate, Lewis Hamilton, and Kimi Raikkonen. But the German only held a slender lead over his fellow Silver Arrow.

Yesterday Mercedes topped the time sheets in both sessions despite Lewis’ car developing problems throughout the day. In FP1, Lewis sat out a large proportion of the session and had to watch on from the garage whilst his team mate, Nico Rosberg, set the fastest lap. But come the second free practice session, Hamilton had his fair share of time on track and managed to set the fastest lap. Even if his car tried to stop him.

But come the first session of the day, Bottas took to the track first followed by both Lotuses and Ferrari’s.

While the first half of the session ticked by, teams and drivers continued to look to improve their long run pace whilst the track conditions improved for qualifying simulations towards the end.

As they paraded around the Sepang International Circuit, the man at the top of the timesheet changed just a handful of times. But once Nico moved into the top spot on the hard compound tyres with a 1:40.252, he remained there until the qualifying sims kicked in.

Raikkonen had provided both Mercedes men a challenge yesterday. But today he failed to set a competitive time until late on into the session, after developing a puncture on his left-rear tyre early on and sitting out the remainder of the session. Now the duty of being the challenging Ferrari fell to Vettel who kept the Scuderia on the tail of the Silver Arrow’s.

But once the final ten minutes came into sight, drivers up and down the grid hit the track on the option tyres for a fast paced finale.

At the top, Nico found around half a second on the fresh rubber to extend his lead at the top and break below the 1:40 mark. Now Williams were also joining in on the battle at the top and moved ahead of Vettel and Hamilton to create a new top three.

However once Lewis hooked up a lap, the Brit moved into second place, just under two tenths down on his team mate. And now the top three order was once again shook up when Ferrari’s Finn returned to the track and claim third place, two hundredths ahead of Vettel.

Elsewhere, the Marussia duo of Merhi and Stevens remained a few seconds behind 18th place. Unfortunately for them, Will Stevens also developed an electrical issue towards the end of the session.

But today proved a struggle for McLaren once again with Button only able to stay ahead of the Marussia’s following the Brit loosing one of his engines for the season after Honda found an issue overnight. As for Alonso, the Spaniard had a few spells tucked on the border of the top 10 but failed to hold out for a high position.

As the session approached an end, Lewis Hamilton left his car before the chequered flag fell to bring an end to his practice run. But with a three tenths lead of the Ferrari’s, the Brit saw no challenge to his second place while Nico saw no challenge come his way for P1.

When the chequered flag did fall, the time sheets showed Mercedes had no match once again with the nearest challenger half a second back. But in 3rd and 4th came the two Ferrari’s, with both William’s behind them. Ricciardo managed to claw his Red Bull up to 7th place, but the Aussie ended the session close to a second back from the pace setting Rosberg.

  1. Rosberg (1:39:690)
  2. Hamilton
  3. Raikkonen
  4. Vettel
  5. Massa
  6. Bottas
  7. Ricciardo
  8. Sainz
  9. Verstappen
  10. Ericsson
  11. Grosjean
  12. Maldonado
  13. Kvyat
  14. Hulkenberg
  15. Alonso
  16. Perez
  17. Nasr
  18. Button
  19. Merhi
  20. Stevens