Brazilian GP | Rosberg takes the upper hand from Hamilton in FP3

Final free practice at the Brazilian Grand Prix topped by Nico Rosberg.

Sao Paulo Saturday morning topped by Nico Rosberg as narrow margins again split the championship leaders in Brazil. This time, though, it is Nico Rosberg taking the upper hand from Hamilton, after the Briton set the Friday pace.

When the final practice session at the Brazilian Grand Prix got underway, the early venturing Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel were welcomed by a damp track after early rainfall moistened the track.

The track, however, did not have any standing water – as Vettel reported over the team’s radio. And when Hamilton soon came out, the reigning champion was calling for slicks moments after Wehrlein became the first to take on inters.

Slick tyres for Hamilton, though, came slightly too early for the track to provide enough grip. With Lewis slightly locking up at turn four and running off onto the run-off.

Lewis was, however, able to post the first time of the day as he lapped on the soft tyres. Completing a lap of the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in 1 minute 16 seconds. Over three seconds slower than home favourite Felipe Massa was capable of moments later. With Massa also forced to take on an extra warm up lap when an umbrella blew onto the circuit.

With the track conditions ever improving, and more drivers taking on the soft or medium slick tyres, Kimi Raikkonen was next to lower the benchmark. Lapping in the high 1:12s and nine-tenths faster than Ricciardo was capable of on the medium tyres.

Kimi, too, was up on Vettel as the Finn put in a string of laps on the soft tyres. But as the laps added up, Hamilton on a long run of his own was gaining ground out on track on the Ferrari.

Hamilton, and Rosberg, were then up on the Ferrari again when they eventually came out for qualifying simulation laps. But after Lewis narrowly edged Rosberg in Friday practice, Nico now has marginally taking the upper hand.

Rosberg had completed his flying lap before Lewis began to push. With the German moving three-tenths up on Verstappen and five to Ricciardo after being told to push again on his fourth lap as the battery was not charging fast enough for a flyer-cooldown-flyer.

Hamilton then came out five-hundredths of a second down to Rosberg in sector one before losing further time in the middle sector. Before marginally gaining on his team-mate in sector three to cross the line nine-hundredths of a second down on the championship leader.

The gap separating the pacesetter Rosberg from the Red Bulls was also wide enough for the Ferrari duo to slot in between. With the Scuderia pilots split b seven-hundredths of a second for third and fourth in Raikkonen’s favour.

Williams also ended the session half a second ahead of Force India despite the Silverstone team running higher in the order earlier in the hour. Massa and Bottas’ strong result also follows a superb Friday for the team as their strong pace saw them lead their constructors’ championship rivals in a weekend they enter nine points down.

Speaking of Friday, it was an MGU-H water leak that brought Fernando Alonso’s session to an early end as the Spaniard tried his hand at camera operation. Fernando’s Saturday also began watching from the team’s hospitality unit as McLaren finished an engine change and changes to the gearbox sensors and electronic loom.

Marcus Ericsson was also forced to take an engine change on Saturday morning, ending his FP3 mid-session.

Pos Driver Team Laps Time Gap Interval
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 19 1’11.740
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 21 1’11.833 0.093 0.093
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 14 1’11.959 0.219 0.126
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 16 1’12.027 0.287 0.068
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 19 1’12.077 0.337 0.05
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 21 1’12.287 0.547 0.21
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams 27 1’12.614 0.874 0.327
8 Jolyon Palmer Renault 19 1’12.968 1.228 0.354
9 Felipe Massa Williams 26 1’12.990 1.25 0.022
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 12 1’13.002 1.262 0.012
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 14 1’13.203 1.463 0.201
12 Sergio Perez Force India 19 1’13.231 1.491 0.028
13 Kevin Magnussen Renault 15 1’13.255 1.515 0.024
14 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 20 1’13.293 1.553 0.038
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 15 1’13.344 1.604 0.051
16 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 16 1’13.596 1.856 0.252
17 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 13 1’13.609 1.869 0.013
18 Jenson Button McLaren 9 1’13.750 2.01 0.141
19 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 20 1’13.972 2.232 0.222
20 Felipe Nasr Sauber 14 1’13.992 2.252 0.02
21 Esteban Ocon Manor 21 1’14.222 2.482 0.23
22 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1