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Rosberg heads Mercedes 1-2 in final practice

NEWS STORY
29/03/2014

Ahead of today's practice session the air temperature is 31 degrees C, while the track temperature is 50 degrees. Today's practice session is three hours later than yesterday's opening session - and an hour earlier than the second - hence the higher temperatures. There is also a 30 percent chance of rain.

Mercedes topped the timesheets in both of yesterday's sessions, Lewis Hamilton in the morning and teammate Nico Rosberg in the afternoon however, the team is concerned at the high level of tyre degradation it is suffering.

McLaren was on the pace in both sessions, but even then drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen are playing down their chances, the Woking team also citing tyre performance.

Interestingly, mixing it with the Mercedes duo in both sessions was Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn looking far more at ease than he did in Melbourne.

The misery continues for Lotus with both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado having limited running, the Venezuelan failing to post a time in either session. Another driver encountering a miserable day was Kamui Kobayashi who suffered an energy store issue which kept him out of both sessions.

Ignoring the ongoing fuel flow row, both Red Bulls were on the pace - or thereabouts - while Williams looked strong in the afternoon.

The lights go green, and first out is Magnussen, followed by Vergne, Maldonado, Grosjean, Chilton, Magnussen and a whole host of others as the teams anticipate the 'traditional' downpour. Indeed, within the first four minutes all but the Red Bulls have been out... but nobody stays out for a second lap.

As the Red Bulls finally leave the sanctuary of the garage, Maldonado is the first driver out for a second run - no doubt the Lotus driver has his fingers (or toes) crossed that he will actually get to complete a lap far less post a time.

The Venezuelan doesn't help the situation when he runs worryingly wide in T8 however, he make it to the line and breaks the timing beam at 1:49.882.

As Vettel complains of "something loose on the right side of the cover", possibly a sticker, Ericsson, Chilton, Sutil and Massa are on track.

Maldonado improves to 45.211 as Ericsson goes second with a 47.302. The Swede complains of "very, very low grip".

A 42.855 sees Massa go quickest as Raikkonen and Rosberg finally leave their garages. Sutil goes second and Chilton fourth, ahead of Kobayashi and Ericsson.

As Hamilton and Alonso head down the pitlane, Kvyat posts 43.713 to go second.

Drivers having to work very hard in order to stay on the black stuff, Kobayashi having a worrying moment in the final corner.

As Raikkonen goes quickest (41.835), Magnussen suddenly slows, almost causibng Massa to run into the back of him, the Dane having suffered a sensor issue in yesterday's opening session.

Hamilton goes quickest (41.246), Bottas third and Alonso fourth, as Magnussen finally arrives back at his garage.

Rosberg takes the top spot with a 40.946 as Hamilton complains about his feet - yes his feet!!! He is told to return to the pits where spacers will be fitted. A new sponsorship deal with Scholl surely beckons. The Mercedes driver subsequently runs wide in T4.

"Very boring these high speed corners," says Button, "very boring."

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