|© AP Photo/Jens Meyer
Nico Rosberg comfortably emerged as the quickest driver in the third and final practice session for the German Grand Prix setting the fastest time of the weekend so far on Saturday ahead of qualifying.
In front of his home fans and under scorching conditions, the championship leader was the only driver to set a time in the 1 minute 17 second bracket, and was a massive six-tenths quicker than teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton had set the pace on Friday but was only 0.024 seconds quicker than Rosberg.
The top times set by the Mercedes duo came on the quicker supersoft option tyres, which all drivers ran in the final 15 minutes of practice. On the primes, Mercedes focussed on setup adjustments and pointed out that those times were not representative, indicating that it remained the team to beat this weekend as well.
Most of practice was conducted on the soft prime compounds, on which Williams set the pace with Valtteri Bottas ahead of teammate Felipe Massa. However, during the qualifying simulations towards the end of the session the Brazilian was fourth while Bottas was fifth after the Finn committed a couple of mistakes on his hot lap.
Fernando Alonso was left to take the best-of-the-rest slot setting the third fastest time in his Ferrari but earlier in the session the Spaniard uncharacteristically spun after he locked up his prime tyres at Turn 8 just past the halfway mark.
A few minutes later Hamilton too locked up as he approached the apex of the same corner and went wide at the exit proving the turn to be tricky.
PROBLEMS FOR RAIKKONEN, BUTTON
Both the Ferraris emerged late, a third of the way into the session. Kimi Raikkonen was the first to head out in the scarlet car but after a few laps the Finn was asked to head back to the garage as a problem with the fuel pump was detected.
Later, Raikkonen became the first driver to head out on the option tyres, on which he set his fastest time but his session was cut short as he wasn’t able to take to the track towards the end, eventually dropping him to eight on the charts.
To avoid problems in qualifying, a part related to the fuel pump on Raikkonen’s car called for a change ending his practice with just over ten minutes remaining.
Kevin Magnussen was fifth in the McLaren ahead of Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. Sebastian Vettel was ninth while Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg rounded up the top ten.
Jenson Button struggled throughout practice despite trying a new rear-wing that McLaren had introduced for the weekend. The Briton, who was 1.7 seconds off the pace in 13th, complained about understeer and problems with braking.
"We're miles away from where we need to be guys," he said over the radio. "Not got any balance. Braking power is terrible."