Nico Rosberg has set the quickest time in the final practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix, finishing three-tenths of a second ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo.

The final practice session got away to a slow start as a morning shower had dampened the Suzuka circuit, leaving the drivers to complete their installation laps on wet weather tyres.

Jenson Button was the first to head out on slicks using the medium tyre, although just completed the installation lap before returning to the McLaren-Honda pits.

His teammate Fernando Alonso was next to venture out to the circuit on slicks, and set the first timed lap of the session to the enjoyment of the crowd.

Haas was keen to get Esteban Gutiérrez out on track after his second practice session was limited due to a turbo failure. The Mexican struggled to get to grips with the evolving circuit, running wide at Spoon Curve on his first timed lap, then spinning on the following lap at the Esses.

It took more than half of the session until most of the field went out on track once a dry racing line was established. Rosberg went fastest on the mediums, only a fraction of a second quicker than Lewis Hamilton.

Once it was time to make the switch to the soft tyre for qualifying simulations, Rosberg improved on his time by 1.1 seconds to secure his spot at the top of the timesheets, while Hamilton failed to complete a flying lap and slipped back to seventh position.

Sebastian Vettel was three-tenths adrift Ricciardo’s time as the Ferrari driver finished in fourth position, while his teammate Kimi Raikkonen was hampered by traffic and finished almost a second off the pace in fifth position, with Max Verstappen splitting the Ferrari pair in fourth.

Felipe Massa was in sixth position while the two Renaults of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen, posted the exact same time to finish in eighth and ninth positions respectively.

Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten while Alonso narrowly missed out in eleventh position.

Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas

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Josh Kruse

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