Nico Rosberg edged ahead of Mercedes team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton in final practice for the Brazilian GP.
Rosberg, who beat Hamilton to win at Interlagos in 2014 and 2015, will be crowned champion on Sunday if he completes a hat-trick of Brazil victories.
Rosberg’s lap of 1:11.740, set on a damp circuit after persistent overnight rain, was 0.093 faster than Hamilton’s best effort. Hamilton was fastest in both of Friday’s practice sessions.
The two Mercs only showed their hand in the final ten minutes of the session after devoting the majority of this morning’s running to heavy-fuel running.
The changeable conditions for Practice Three are expected to be more representative for race day than the dry running the field enjoyed on Friday while more rain is forecast for qualifying, which begins at 4pm UK time.
After flying under the radar on Friday, Ferrari made a significant leap forward in performance as Sebastian Vettel moved third, just two tenths adrift of the two Silver Arrows.
Vettel’s Scuderia team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest, a place ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
It emerged during the session that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff rang Jos Verstappen after the Mexican GP to complain about the driving of his son, Max.
After finishing Practice Two as a trackside spectator, Fernando Alonso rounded off the top for McLaren while, in the week it was announced he would be staying for 2017, Jolyon Palmer showed up well by claiming eighth for Renault.
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Brazilian GP Practice Three timesheet
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:11.740
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, + 0.093
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, + 0.219
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, + 0.287
5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, + 0.337
6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, + 0.547
7. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, + 0.874
8. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, + 1.228
9. Felipe Massa, Williams, + 1.250
10. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, + 1.262
11. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, + 1.463
12. Sergio Perez, Force India, + 1.491
13. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, + 1.515
14. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, + 1.553
15. Romain Grosjean, Haas, + 1.604
16. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, + 1.856
17. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, + 1.869
18. Jenson Button, McLaren, + 2.010
19. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, + 2.232
20. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, + 2.252
21. Esteban Ocon, Manor, + 2.482
22. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, No time set