Formula 1: Mercedes back on top in Japan

Mercedes returned to the top of the timesheet at the Japanese Grand Prix as Nico Rosberg set the pace in third practice on Saturday.

Wet weather finally stayed away at Suzuka and normal service resumed as constructors’ championship leaders Mercedes went top.

With around 20 minutes remaining, Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton went one and two in the session on option tyres.

Rosberg’s time of one minute, 33.995 seconds was enough for him to finish fastest, leaving Hamilton (+0.297s) with work to do.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a strong session and was third quickest, ahead of Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.

Ferrari, meanwhile, struggled as Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were sixth and eighth respectively, with Max Verstappen splitting them.

Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz made up the top 10.

Suzuka was gloomy but there was none of the rain that hampered the opening two practice sessions on Friday.

Ricciardo was fastest early and was top of the timesheet for large parts of the hour-long session.

But Mercedes took up their option tyres and immediately showcased the speed that has made them dominant.

They proved Singapore was nothing more than a slight hiccup, with Ricciardo half-a-second behind Rosberg in third.

1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:33.995
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:34.292
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:34.497
4. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1:34.797
5. Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:34.934
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:35.082
7. Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) 1:35.160
8. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:35.222
9. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 1:35.602
10. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) 1:35.963