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Rosberg lays down the gauntlet in final practice

NEWS STORY
19/07/2014

Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 28 degrees C, while the track temperature is 42 degrees. It looks as though we're going to have another scorcher.

Mercedes ruled the roost yesterday, with Nico Rosberg quickest in FP1 and teammate Lewis Hamilton on top in FP2 as the option tyres came into play.

Red Bull looked to have closed the gap to the Mercedes in FP2, Sebastian Vettel looking good on the long runs. Williams, McLaren and Ferrari also looked good.

The Top 6 were covered by 0.683s, with Ricciardo just 0.102s down on pace-setter Hamilton.

There were an inordinate amount of lock-ups and offs yesterday and much of this was put down to the absence off the FRIC systems - the lack of Mercedes usual total dominance also put down to the controversial suspension system.

The Renault runners are also said to be benefitting from an upgrade to the French manufacturer's software.

The big talking point was is the weather which is not only affecting tyres but also, in some cases, the brakes. Indeed, to cope with the unusually high temperatures teams are having to adapt their bodywork accordingly... often on the fly. As it were.

While Mercedes is playing down the decreased gap to the opposition, some believe the German outfit is sandbagging whilst others put it down, amongst other things, to the absence of FRIC.

The lights go green and Sutil is first out, the German finishing the day tenth yesterday as Sauber looked to have improved. Behind him is Maldonado, Lotus looking very off-form thus far this weekend.

As Sutil begins his first flying lap, more and more drivers head down the pitlane and on to the track, among them Vettel, Rosberg and Alonso.

Sutil heads back to the pits as do the cars behind him, only Rosberg stays out to post a time (21.343). Moments later Magnussen posts 20.034.

As Hamilton posts 22.545, the cameras pick up on Rosberg running wide in T2 and Magnussen at T17, the Dane taking a particularly rough ride over the kerbs.

As Rosberg improves to 20.025, Hamilton is told not to back off for traffic.

Magnussen goes quickest (19.878) and Perez third (20.197).

On his first flying lap, Bottas, having gone quickest in S2, goes quickest overall (19.259). Magnussen improves to second as Rosberg slips down to third.

Kobayashi goes 12th (22.882), the Japanese having a nightmare day yesterday when his car caught fire due to a problem Caterham is still investigating.

As drivers continue to run wide in T1, Massa posts 19.442 to make it a Williams 1-2, teammate Bottas having improved to 19.052.

On his first flying lap, Raikkonen, who looks a lot happier this weekend (the absence of FRIC?), goes third with a 19.829. Vettel is currently fifth.

Twenty-five minutes into the session all but Alonso and Ricciardo have posted times.

"We need you to come in," Raikkonen is told, subsequently advised that he has a "problem with the fuel system". Yesterday, the Finn lost track time in FP1 with a water pump problem.

As Raikkonen returns to the track - meaning it cannot have been a serious problem - sporting a set of options, the first driver to make the switch, Ricciardo, on his first flying lap, goes third (19.764).

A spin for Alonso in T8, the Spaniard having gone 8th (appropriately) on his first flying lap (20.158).

Raikkonen goes quickest, stopping the clock at 18.842, thus far the only driver to post a time on the supersofts.

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