HOCKENHEIM, Germany (AP) — Nico Rosberg beat teammate Lewis Hamilton to the fastest time as Mercedes set the pace in the final practice before qualifying at the German Grand Prix on Saturday.
Rosberg completed his best lap on the Hockenheimring in 1 minute, 17.779 seconds, beating then leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari by .605, for the fastest time of the weekend.
Hamilton finished second by clocking 1:18.380 to edge Alonso by just four thousandths of a second.
Mercedes told Hamilton he was losing time braking into the hairpin bend and then again on the eighth turn.
The 2008 champion reported a “small vibration on this set of tires.”
Alonso spun on Turn 8 when he ran wide onto a dirty part of the circuit. The Spaniard kept his engine running and was soon driving again.
Drivers improved their times by switching to supersoft tires in the final 10 minutes. Track temperatures climbed to 48 degrees C (118 F) during the session and continued to rise.
Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were fourth and fifth, respectively, ahead of McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull.
Vettel was among a host of drivers to run off track and continue at Turn 1.
Raikkonen had a fuel system problem that Ferrari mechanics were working to fix before the qualifying session. The Finn had a water pump problem on Friday.
Jensen Button ran with a new rear wing. McLaren had fitted teammate Magnussen with his new wing on Friday.
However, Button complained he was “really struggling with braking today. The tires are locking so easily over the bumps.”
The 2009 champion ultimately finished 13th.
Rosberg leads Hamilton by four points going into Sunday’s race at the halfway stage of the season.
Rosberg also beat his British teammate in the opening practice session, while Hamilton returned the favor in the second session.
Both Rosberg and Hamilton have four pole positions apiece this season.
Qualifying starts 2 p.m. local time (1300 GMT).