F1 German GP: Mercedes' Rosberg stays on top in FP3, rivals closer

Nico Rosberg maintained his Formula 1 free practice supremacy ahead of the German Grand Prix by setting the pace on Saturday morning

F1 German GP: Mercedes' Rosberg stays on top in FP3, rivals closer

But the Mercedes driver's advantage over team-mate Lewis Hamilton was vastly reduced, with the gap between the pair just 0.057 seconds, setting the stage for a close battle in qualifying.

Both Mercedes drivers set their best times relatively early in the session on their first set of super-soft Pirellis, with first Rosberg going fastest on a 1m16.134s.

Hamilton then posted a 1m16.015s followed by a lap of 1m15.795s only for Rosberg to bang in the fastest lap of the session - a 1m15.738s.

That decided the top two, with neither attempting further quick runs later in the session and focusing on other preparation work.

The only problematic moment for Mercedes was when an investigation was triggered into Hamilton being released into the path of Haas driver Romain Grosjean in the pits.

Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest after not running on the super-softs until late in the session.

He lapped just 99 thousandths slower than Rosberg, setting the fastest time of all in the long middle sector, to secure the position of best of the rest.

The two Ferrari drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, ended up fourth and fifth ahead of Max Verstappen.

At the end of the session, Vettel returned to the pits complaining of possible floor damage most likely as a result of hitting a kerb badly, with the right side of his front wing flapping.

Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa held first and second 15 minutes into the session, but were inevitably shuffled down to seventh and eighth by the end.

This was a big step forward from Friday's single-lap pace relative to the opposition, although the car had looked good on race pace.

Fernando Alonso was another driver who did not run on the super-softs until the final 10 minutes, posting the ninth fastest time.

At the same time, Nico Hulkenberg also had his first super-soft run to secure 10th place ahead of Carlos Sainz and Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez.

Grosjean had a troubled session, completing only four laps after suffering a gearbox problem moments after spinning onto the grass coming through Turn 3.

Following warnings about track limits being exceeded at Turn 1, only five drivers were noted to have strayed beyond what was allowed - Raikkonen, Verstappen, Vettel, Hamilton and Sergio Perez, with all but Verstappen deemed to have gained no advantage.

Perez did, though, damage the front of his Force India, requiring repairs before he jumped up from 19th to 12th in the closing stages.

THIRD PRACTICE TIMES:

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.738s - 16
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m15.795s 0.057s 19
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m15.837s 0.099s 13
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m15.902s 0.164s 16
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.104s 0.366s 20
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m16.182s 0.444s 23
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m16.400s 0.662s 28
8 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m16.630s 0.892s 26
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m16.916s 1.178s 11
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m16.972s 1.234s 16
11 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m17.028s 1.290s 20
12 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m17.066s 1.328s 10
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m17.160s 1.422s 17
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m17.227s 1.489s 19
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m17.351s 1.613s 9
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m17.473s 1.735s 23
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m17.685s 1.947s 19
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m18.057s 2.319s 24
19 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m18.093s 2.355s 6
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m18.270s 2.532s 24
21 Rio Haryanto Manor/Mercedes 1m18.272s 2.534s 18
22 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m25.160s 9.422s 4


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