The world champion lapped in 1m 37.615s on the soft Pirelli tyre, as Rosberg backed him up with 1m 37.841s.
Neither of the Ferraris broke the 1m 38s barrier, with Sebastian Vettel on 1m 38.313s ahead of Kimi Raikkonen on 1m 38.512s. The German was 0.698s adrift of Hamilton. On the harder tyre Hamilton also had an advantage of half a second on him, even though the session was held in track temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius which, contrary to expectations, were closer to those that pertained in Malaysia.
Behind the lead four, it was incredibly close as just half a second covered fifth through to 14th.
Daniel Ricciardo led the way, narrowly heading Red Bull team mate Daniil Kvyat with 1m 39.020s to 1m 39.106s respectively, as Carlos Sainz continued to impress with the seventh fastest time of 1m 39.113s in the lead Toro Rosso.
Valtteri Bottas was eighth for Williams, fractions of a second down the road on 1m 39.243s, with the top ten completed by Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen on 1m 39.274s and Lotus's Romain Grosjean on 1m 39.405s.
Felipe Massa, using the older Williams front wing following his high-speed off yesterday, clocked 1m 39.410s for 11th, while Nico Hulkenberg sprang a surprise as he took his Force India to 12th on 1m 39.513s.
Sauber were next up, Marcus Ericsson shading Felipe Nasr on 1m 39.559s and 1m 39.591s, ahead of Jenson Button's McLaren on 1m 39.694s and Pastor Maldonado's Lotus on 1m 39.766s. Sergio Perez was 17th but within touching distance of Ricciardo in fifth, after guiding the second Force India to 1m 39.781.
At the back, Will Stevens lapped his Marussia in 1m 42.928s for 19th, ahead of team mate Roberto Merhi on 1m 44.956s.
Fernando Alonso didn't record a time, as his McLaren stopped with a suspected engine problem just seconds into his out lap.