World champion Lewis Hamilton edged out his in-form title rival Nico Rosberg in final practice for the Russian Grand Prix.
The Briton posted a best lap of one minute and 36.403 seconds - the fastest ever seen at the Sochi Autodrom - in the final moments of the session ahead of qualifying later on Saturday.
Rosberg, 36 points clear of Hamilton heading into the fourth round of the championship, was just 0.068 seconds slower than his Mercedes team-mate.
Sebastian Vettel, who will serve a five-place grid penalty after changing his gearbox, was next up for Ferrari, albeit more than half-a-second adrift of Hamilton's best lap.
Kimi Raikkonen placed fourth with the Williams pair of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas fifth and sixth respectively.
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Nico Rosberg celebrated winning the China Grand Prix and moving 36 points clear of Lewis Hamilton with a Burger King as Red Bull team principal Christian Horner predicted Formula One's championship leader would soon have cause to celebrate a new Mercedes contract, too.
Rosberg's brilliant start to the season reached new heights on Sunday after he extended his unbeaten streak to three races in 2016, and six in as many grands prix stretching back to last year.
The German posted a video to his social media accounts in which he toasted his third victory at the fast-food restaurant ahead of his flight to Berlin for Monday night's Laureus Sports Awards where he will be joined by Hamilton and Mercedes bosses' Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda.
Rosberg is out of contract at the end of the year, but Horner does not envisage the 30-year-old leaving the sport's all-conquering team.
"I think Nico is doing a great job and I can't see him at any other team than Mercedes next year," Horner told Press Association Sport.
Formula One drivers may be among the best paid sportsmen in the world, but that did not stop them from splitting the bill 18 ways following their dinner in Shanghai on Wednesday night.
Lewis Hamilton, who last year signed a £100million three-year contract with Mercedes, said he picked the restaurant - an Italian called The Kitchen - and laid down the deposit for a meal which all but four of the grid attended.
But when it came to who picked up the bill, he claimed his offer to pay was shot down by his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
"It was a little bit silly really, ridiculous because someone said, 'Let's share the bill', so 18 drivers shared a bill which is just insane," Hamilton said with a smile.
"It probably wasn't really that expensive. I did say 'why don't I just get it now, or two of us get it now, and then the next time someone else gets it'.
"And they are like 'no, no, no. I want to pay individually'.
"We all got a receipt, 18 receipts, 18 credit cards, it was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. I have never seen anything like that before."
Asked who made that suggestion, Hamilton replied: "I am pretty sure it was Nico."
When Hamilton's version of events was then put to his Mercedes team-mate, Rosberg said. "Really? Interesting. From what I can remember, the hidden agreement usually is that the world champion pays, but that might just be my opinion."
Lewis Hamilton's bid to open his winning account for the new season in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix has taken a significant hit after he was served with a five-place grid penalty.
The 31-year-old Mercedes driver has taken on a new gearbox for the third round of the championship in Shanghai following damage sustained to his former one in his first-corner collision with Valtteri Bottas at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
It means Hamilton, who is yet to win since he claimed his third title with victory at October's United States Grand Prix, will start only sixth even if he manages to qualify fastest.
"The gearbox of Lewis Hamilton's F1 W07 Hybrid sustained damage in Bahrain which required a physical inspection for full assessment," Mercedes posted on their Twitter feed on Thursday morning.
"Having done so the decision has been taken to change the gearbox rather than carry any risk moving forwards.
"Of the next four track in the normal cycle, Shanghai is the best place to make the change and take the resulting grid penalty. The Shanghai International Circuit has good overtaking opportunities so plenty of chance for Lewis Hamilton to get the hammer down."
Nico Rosberg claimed his second win of the new Formula One season after capitalising on a first-corner collision involving Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg, winner of the season opener in Australia a fortnight ago, got the better of a slow-starting Hamilton to snatch the lead and from there he never looked back.
Hamilton dropped to ninth after his coming-together with Williams' Valtteri Bottas, but recovered to finish third with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen splitting the Mercedes pair.
Lewis Hamilton has taken aim at Formula One's powerbrokers in the wake of proposed changes designed to usher in a new era for the sport.
A new qualifying format, which is set to be introduced for the season-opening race in Melbourne next month, as well as changes to the technical make-up for the sport, have been proposed.
The changes mean that the slowest drivers eliminated every 90 seconds after a timed period - rather than at the end of the three sessions - in hope of providing greater unpredictability.
But reflecting on the decisions, Hamilton, the triple world champion, said: "I don't agree with the changes that are made, and have been made for many, many years, so you just live with it.
"I think the drivers should be consulted - I am sure they have been involved more in recent decisions, maybe not the ones that have just been done - but we do have a feeling in the car, we do have some ideas of what could be better, and we know what is not good in the car.
"Some of the drivers have been driving 10 to 15 years and have been through all the different rule changes and know which ones work, and which ones didn't."
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Lewis Hamilton has revealed his "attention was elsewhere" after he won last year's Formula One World Championship.
Hamilton - in action for the first winter test in Barcelona on Monday - sealed his third title with three races left on the calendar, but Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg dominated the final rounds.
"I'm not really too fussed about what happened in the final few races of 2015 as it didn't affect my championship", said Hamilton.
"Of course, I love winning and that's always the goal - but to be honest my attention was elsewhere at that point.
Hamilton will be bidding to become the first British driver to win four titles and the 31-year-old says his winless streak at the back end of last season will act as his motivation heading into the new campaign.
"If anything, it motivated me. It made me think 'okay, next year Nico is going to be super quick and super strong, so I've got to make sure I raise the bar again'.
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