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Rosberg edges out Hamilton in FP3

NEWS STORY
31/10/2015

Ahead of today's sole free practice session, the air temperature is 19 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 27 degrees.

The sun is shining but there are dark clouds in the distance, heavy rain having been forecast for much of the last week. Following earlier showers the rain remains damp in places however, Race control says there is only a 10% chance of rain in the next hour..

A combination of rain and resins oozing from the brand new asphalt resulted in a very, very slippery track yesterday. Indeed, some drivers claimed that even in the dry it was driving on ice.

Consequently, not a single driver got through the two sessions without some sort of incident, some faring better than others. Whilst most got away with spins or even a cross country run, Verstappen brought out the red flags when the rear of his Toro Rosso snapped out and he clouted the barriers.

Due to the thinness of the air, top speeds on the straights are even higher than at Monza, and as a result a number of drivers have experienced brake issues, not least Nico Rosberg whose rear brakes caught fire. Valtteri Bottas had a very scary moment when he suffered a rear wing stall which saw the Finn spin and then spear into the barriers.

Whilst the layout of the track leaves much to be desired, especially among those of us who remember the old layout, the atmosphere is electric, the fans really getting into the spirit of things.

Mercedes, as ever, has the edge here, with Red Bull looking next best ahead of Ferrari and Williams.

Tyres available are medium (prime) and soft (option), and while the soft are clearly quicker some drivers complain they are going off after just a few laps. We should find out more over the next hour.

Stevens is first out but is quickly overtaken by the Ferrari duo. Ericsson, Sainz, Grosjean and Rossi are among the other early risers.

While most head back to the pits after an installation lap, Ericsson stays out and posts the first time of the day (29.929).

Ricciardo is warned that the shaded sections in the stadium section may have left damp patches.

Verstappen goes quickest (26.218), the Dutch youngster yet to run on the option tyres here having crashed early in FP2.

Having gone quickest (25.410), Massa goes quickest in S1, as the crowd erupts when Perez posts 25.360. moments later, Massa crosses the line at 25.265.

As Massa raises the bar with a 23.803, Perez has a hairy moment as he runs wrestles the car and wide in T7.

"There's a bump in T11 which is causing us issues," Alonso is told, "please try and avoid it."

Vettel goes quickest in S1, finally crossing the line at 24.337 to go third. Teammate Raikkonen posts 24.648 to go fifth.

Hulkenberg takes the top spot with a 23.506 as Kvyat posts 23.594 to go second.

Raikkonen pulls to the side of the track, smoke billowing from the rear of his car. "I had some issue with the engine," he reveals, "I lost the power."

Rosberg's first flying lap sees the German go 11th (26.138), as Kvyat posts 23.029 to go quickest. Teammate Hamilton is one of five drivers yet to post a time.

Rosberg improves with a 23.322 as Raikkonen arrives back in the pitlane... on foot.

"I'm struggling with warm up, low grip," says Vettel.

A massive lock-up for Stevens at T4.

Renault powered Kvyat raises the bar ever higher, the Russia crossing the line at 22.955.

Bottas goes second with a 23.194 as Verstappen complains of "oversteer everywhere, high speed, low speed".

"It's a little bit better than yesterday," says Bottas, "but still sliding a lot."

On his first flying lap of the day, Ricciardo posts 23.445 to go fifth, subsequently posting 22.909 to go quickest. Red Bull 1-2.

As Hamilton heads down the pitlane, the only driver yet to post a time, Alonso also heads out, the first driver to appear on the option rubber.

Hamilton posts 27.016 to go seventeenth as Masa goes quickest with a 22.729. Moments later Ricciardo re-takes the top spot with a 22.502.

Struggling to get grip into his tyres, Hamilton improves to eighth (23.549), while Verstappen, now on softs, goes third with a 22.866.

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