Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari, nine-tenths down on Hamilton and the only man within a second of the Silver Arrows. Fourth place went to Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz fifth, and the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg sixth.
Hamilton was fastest on Pirelli’s medium tyre with 1m 24.747s in the cooler but windy conditions which made Turns 1 and 4 tricky, followed by Rosberg on 1m 24.873s, Daniil Kyvat on 1m 25.405s and Sebastian Vettel on 1m 25.409s.
On the soft rubber, Hamilton eased ahead of Rosberg’s 1m 23.095s with 1m 22.997s. Behind them, Vettel and Kvyat switched places, the Ferrari driver going third with 1m 23.886 from the Red Bull pilot on 1m 24.215s.
In their wake, Carlos Sainz sprung a surprise with a fifth fastest 1m 24.326s, but he was aided a little by the absence of Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn had earlier matched Vettel on the mediums, but lost the second half of the session with a water leak on his Ferrari. He’ll thus go into qualifying without a representative low-fuel, soft tyre run.
Nico Hulkenberg put Force India back on track after yesterday’s problems, when he set the fastest time of 1m 24.483s as the first runner to switch to the softs. That held up for sixth, which was a big fillip for the team. Max Verstappen couldn’t match his team mate as he struggled with his Toro Rosso’s tyres, but was seventh on 1m 24.678s ahead of Fernando Alonso, who gave McLaren a massive boost with the eighth fastest time of 1m 24.846s.
Behind the Spaniard, who failed to improve after being one of many to run wide after locking up going into Turn 1, Daniel Ricciardo was unhappy with a lap of 1m 24.929s in the second Red Bull, as the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado sprang from nowhere with 1m 24.941s and 1m 24.953s apiece.
Despite their optimism, Williams struggled. Felipe Massa was 12th on 1m 25.094s and Valtteri Bottas 14th on 1m 25.345s, separated by Jenson Button who struggled with a lack of grip in his McLaren on his way to 1m 25.229s.
Sergio Perez showed no ill effects after yesterday morning’s inversion but could not make his Force India go round faster than 1m 25.393s for 15th, ahead of the troubled Raikkonen on 1m 25.661s from his best lap on mediums, and the well-matched Sauber duo. Felipe Nasr was 17th on 1m 26.060s with team mate Marcus Ericsson right behind on 1m 26.095s. The Marussia boys were also close: Will Stevens just pipped Roberto Merhi with 1m 28.757s to 1m 28.908s.
Besides Alonso, Turn 1 caught out Hamilton, Rosberg, and Verstappen and Perez, the Mexican spinning there, while Massa, Ericsson, Grosjean and Perez all ran very wide at Turn 4.