Nico Rosberg fastest for Mercedes in final Malaysian Grand Prix practice

Nico Rosberg set the pace in final practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, putting Mercedes on top of the times by over four tenths of a second

Nico Rosberg fastest for Mercedes in final Malaysian Grand Prix practice

The German waited until the final moments of the session to complete a lap using Pirelli's medium tyres, setting the fastest time of the weekend so far with a 1m36.877s.

Rosberg was the only man to lap the Sepang circuit in less than 97 seconds.

The Mercedes driver was followed by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, who seemed to enjoy a better session than on Friday. Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean completed the top five for the Lotus team, with Jenson Button in sixth and Pastor Maldonado in seventh with the Williams.

Yesterday's pacesetter Lewis Hamilton had to settle for ninth position after managing just eight laps following the only significant incident of the session, which saw him go off track at Turn 14.

Ferrari has another low-key session, with Fernando Alonso down in 13th and team-mate Felipe Massa in 18th.

Although light rain hit the circuit minutes before final practice kicked off, the start took place on a mostly dry track, but some damp patches made the early part of the session very slow as teams decided not to venture out.

With a track temperature of around 30 degrees Celsius, all drivers completed their installation laps right away, but no one set a time until Bruno Senna completed the first full round of Sepang over 20 minutes into the session.

The Brazilian lowered the benchmark over the following laps and managed to stay on top for a few minutes while other drivers completed their first runs.

Grosjean moved to the top of the times at the 28-minute mark with a lap of 1m40.239s, with team-mate Raikkonen slotting himself in second. On his following lap, the Frenchman was the first man to go below the 1m40s mark, and again was followed by Raikkonen, the Lotus duo staying on top until Senna went fastest again just seconds later.

Vettel jumped to first place with the first lap in the 1m38s with some 26 minutes left, only for team-mate Webber to improve on that when he completed his first run an instant later.

Hamilton was one of the last men to try to set a time, but the Briton lost control of his car at Turn 14 on his flying lap and ended up in the gravel. He managed to return to the track and drove straight into the pits, leaving him as the only man without a laptime.

Webber had no such problems though, and the Australian went even quicker to post the fastest time of the weekend so far: 1m38.145s. With less than 20 minutes left, Vettel set a new benchmark by outpacing his team-mate by less than a tenth of a second.

Maldonado then jumped to the top with the first lap of the weekend in the 1m37s, the Venezuelan going over half a second faster than Vettel.

After several minutes of frantic work by the McLaren mechanics, Hamilton returned to the track with 10 minutes remaining, but the Briton needed just one lap to move into second position using Pirelli's medium tyres as all the drivers took to the track for the last five minutes of action.

Hamilton's team-mate Button and seconds later Red Bull driver Vettel took to the top of the times before Rosberg managed the first lap of the weekend in the 1m36s to put the Mercedes in first by over four tenths of a second over the reigning world champion.

At the bottom of the times, both HRT drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan lapped within the 107 per cent of the fastest time.


Pos Driver                Team                  Time               Laps
 1. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m36.877             16
 2. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m37.320s  + 0.443   15
 3. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m37.338s  + 0.461   12
 4. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1m37.356s  + 0.479   13
 5. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1m37.382s  + 0.505   13
 6. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m37.404s  + 0.527   12
 7. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1m37.455s  + 0.578   13
 8. Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1m37.663s  + 0.786   15
 9. Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1m37.776s  + 0.899    8
10. Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1m37.977s  + 1.100   17
11. Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1m38.091s  + 1.214   20
12. Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1m38.178s  + 1.301   15
13. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m38.246s  + 1.369   17
14. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1m38.285s  + 1.408   16
15. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m38.423s  + 1.546   13
16. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m38.640s  + 1.763   11
17. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1m38.794s  + 1.917   18
18. Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m39.20$s  + 2.332   16
19. Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1m39.704s  + 2.827   15
20. Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1m40.189s  + 3.312   14
21. Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1m41.901s  + 5.024   14
22. Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1m42.007s  + 5.130   14
23. Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1m42.464s  + 5.587   14
24. Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1m43.378s  + 6.501   17

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