Hamilton set a rapid pace on the hard tyre, lapping in 1m 25.742s which was nearly two-tenths of a second quicker than Fernando Alonso managed for Ferrari on the medium compound. Later, on the medium tyre, Hamilton pared down to 1m 25.519s, giving Mercedes an advantage of 0.412s. Hamilton though complained of brake problems and a lack of DRS at one stage.
Alonso’s 1m 25.931s held up for second quickest, with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa showing Williams’ hand with 1m 26.090s and 1m 26.114s respectively on the mediums. McLaren were also still in the hunt, courtesy of Jenson Button’s 1m 26.242s, while Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was in there too with 1m 26.290s ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen on 1m 26.327s, Daniil Kvyat on 1m 26.437s for Toro Rosso and Daniel Ricciardo on 1m 26.437s in the slower Red Bull.
Nico Hulkenberg was Force India’s stronger runner in 10th as Sergio Perez’s car stopped at Turn 3 with an apparent gearbox problem. The German lapped in 1m 26.608s, the Mexican in 1m 27.312s which left him 13th.
Between them, Kevin Magnussen was disappointed with 1m 26.829s in his McLaren, which was followed by Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber on 1m 27.207s.
Jean-Eric Vergne was 14th in the second Toro Rosso on 1m 27.479s, just ahead of Adrian Sutil in the second Sauber on 1m 27.498s.
Then there was a bit of a gap to Jules Bianchi whose strong form continued with the 16th fastest time of 1m 28.025s for Marussia. Once again the Frenchman was ahead of the Lotuses, with Pastor Maldonado's best a 1m 28.137s. And there had very nearly been a Caterham ahead of the Venezuelan’s E22 as Kamui Kobayashi got the bit between his teeth right at the end to jump to 18th on 1m 28.265s.
That left Romain Grosjean - who was one of many drivers to run off-track during the session - struggling on 1m 28.459s in the second Lotus ahead of Max Chilton on 1m 28.579s in the second Marussia and Marcus Ericsson on 1m 29.251s in the other Caterham.
Rosberg, who completed just three out laps at the beginning of the session, rounded out the timesheet.