Suspected transmission problems limited Sebastian Vettel’s running in the second Ferrari and he was sixth ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. The McLarens of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso completed the top ten.
Neither of the Silver Arrows appeared for some time, even after the session had been red flagged after only 17 minutes when Pascal Wehrlein put his Manor off into the gravel in Turn 19.
Verstappen, meanwhile, had a clean run on the supersoft Pirellis to post 1m 36.76s, and that remained the fastest time of the hour-long session as only team mate Ricciardo, on 1m 37.032s, and Ferrari’s Raikkonen on 1m 37.284s, got really clear runs as well.
When he finally appeared Hamilton did 1m 37.483s, his FP2 brake problems alleviated, but met traffic. So did Rosberg on his way to 1m 37.784s and Sebastian Vettel with 1m 37.894s.
With five minutes to go Rosberg aborted a qualifying simulation after setting a new sector two mark, and with two minutes to go Hamilton was going well until he came up behind the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. He backed off one attempt and beat the chequered flag by nano-seconds to begin a second, but aborted that run too with the message to his team, “Really cool timing, guys.”
It will thus have to wait until qualifying before we see what cards everyone in the top three teams really have in their hands.
Hulkenberg was again in strong form for Force India with 1m 37.948s, as Bottas headed the McLarens of Button and Alonso.
As the times in the midfield were again super-close, Carlos Sainz created the only other drama when he sustained not one but two rear punctures, on separate occasions. He finished 15th just behind team mate Daniil Kvyat, who was this morning confirmed as his partner again at Toro Rosso for 2017.