Rosberg fastest as Hamilton crashes in FP3 at Suzuka


Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton's chances took a potentially severe blow when he crashed in the final ten minutes of the session. Hamilton was entering the first corner on a hot lap as a Williams was exiting the pit lane and it appeared to put the Mercedes driver off his line. Hamilton missed the apex, ran wide onto the artificial grass and then locked up on the tarmac run-off meaning he went straight on into the barrier. The collision ripped off his front wing, but of more concern caused damage to his left front suspension and folded the front left tyre back on the chassis. If the impact has caused damage to the chassis it could see Hamilton miss qualifying, which in turn would have a devastating effect on his weekend if the race is washed out on Sunday by Typhoon Phanfone. The Mercedes team will be keen to get the chassis back to the garage to inspect the damage and try to repair it in the two hours before qualifying. The time Hamilton set was 0.982s off Rosberg, although his accident meant he did not have a clean flying lap on the softer medium tyres. Fernando Alonso was third fastest but still a huge 1.211s off Rosberg's best time. Felipe Massa was fourth fastest ahead of Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. After announcing he is leaving Red Bull at the end of the year, Sebastian Vettel had another engine problem during the session and completed just six laps. His likely team-mate for next year, Kimi Raikkonen, also had problems with his power unit and completed just five laps in the Ferrari. Lots of other drivers had on-track issues as both Lotuses nearly made the same mistake as Hamilton at Turn 1 but just managed to keep their cars out of the barriers. Early in the session, Esteban Gutierrez had a scare when his Sauber snapped on the exit of 130R and veered across the track to the grass on the other side, but he managed to hold it all together.