Hello and welcome to ESPN's live coverage of qualifying ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.

This morning's FP3 session suggested Mercedes has returned to the top after the "blip" of Singapore. The team struggled with a multitude of factors at Marina Bay that ended in a cascade effect and them slipping behind behind Ferrari and Red Bull.

Ferrari appeared to be off the pace this morning but we should know better than to write them off from practice. I would expect them to be the best of the rest behind Mercedes but we've seen a real improvement from the Milton Keynes team of late, evidenced by Ricciardo finishing third in FP3.

Of course, the trick to perfecting Suzuka is to find the perfect balance between downforce and straight-line speed. Drivers need sufficient downforce for the fast twisty bits, for example sector one, but there are high-speed bits of the track, especially through the final sector and on the start/finish straight. Extracting the maximum grip and ensuring a strong front-end are essential to a good, strong race.

The weather remains dry, though the threat of rain always seems to linger at Suzuka.

They'll need a bit more than good luck messages from Asimo this weekend, I think.

Of the current grid, only Vettel (4), Rosberg and Massa (one each) have a pole position at Suzuka. Hamilton has two Japanese Grand Prix poles, but both came at the Fuji Speedway.

Looking away from the front, Williams looked strong behind Ricciardo's Red Bull but I'll be surprised if they stay ahead of one or both Ferraris this afternoon. Max Verstappen did a typically brilliant job to get himself into seventh, while Grosjean gave Lotus some hope of Q3 by finishing ninth.

Button put his McLaren into the lofty heights of 12th for the home crowd but a fight for Q2 looks like the best McLaren can hope for.

It'll be interesting to see the battle for the final spots in Q3. Force India has looked much improved with the B-Spec car it introduced at the British Grand Prix but Lotus and even Sauber may well be in the mix given the lack of running and preparation the team's had for both this session and tomorrow's race.

And let's not forget Manor. Lots said about Alexander Rossi after he beat team-mate Will Stevens in Singapore despite not having race radio for half of the grand prix. Today's qualifying will be another shoot-out between the pair.

Also worth remembering Hulkenberg is the only man (as it stands) with a grid penalty to his name. He will drop three places from wherever he qualifies this afternoon after his collision with Felipe Massa in Singapore.

Last year, Rosberg pipped Hamilton to pole by 0.2s. He's not had quite the edge over Hamilton on Saturdays that he did in 2014 - quite the opposite in fact - but he'll go into this session boosted by topping FP3 by a similar margin this morning.

The weather forecasts say there is a 10% chance of rain - the skies around the circuit look a touch grey but at the moment it seems unlikely it will rain. Air temperature has risen to 27 degrees Celsius, track temp at 38.

We're just waiting for the green light.

The clock starts ticking and away we go. The Toro Rossos the first men out on track.

"There's a real problem with the engine when I'm driving out of the garage ... Big hestitations," Rosberg tells Mercedes. He was complaining about the speed his gears were learning in FP3. He's got good reason to be paranoid about his engine after Monza.

Verstappen posts a 1:35.415 after what had looked like a tidy lap until the final chicane, where he locked up and missed the first apex.

Sainz crosses six tenths down, before Kvyat slots in behind the Toro Rosso by 0.02s.

Replays show Sainz having a massive wobble on exit of Degner 2, explaining why he's so far down on his team-mate.

Rosberg goes into P1 but is eventually pushed down by Hamilton, who crosses in 1:33.595. Both Mercs on the hard compound.

Ricciardo reclaims his FP3 position as he slots in behind Rosberg, a massive 1.4s down on Hamilton's lead time. This is starting to look a little familiar.

Maldonado has moved into fifth, while Hulkenberg is seventh.

The gap between Hamilton and Rosberg is 0.366s. An almost identical reverse of the gap in FP3.

We have a Sauber in the gravel at Spoon. Ericsson the man but he gets going again thanks to the anti-stall.

Replays show his right front touched the astroturf on entry to Spoon and he's a lucky man he stopped short of the tyre barriers - he got very close. He's returned to the pits for a fresh set of boots after destroying that set of hard compounds.

Bottas moves into third, seven tenths down on Hamilton. Massa had just moved ahead of Ricciardo, though there's four tenths between the Williams drivers.

We're still yet to see anything from Ferrari. The team was slow out of the garage this morning in FP3 as well.

Alonso goes into ninth, 1.8s down.

Button can only manage 13th, 2.252s down on the medium tyre. Alonso's time was also set on the mediums.

We have both Ferraris out on the hard compound. Will be interesting to see if they feel the need for the medium compounds before Q2 is finished.

Button complaining again about a lack of communication between himself and the pit wall.

Vettel goes into P4, but that becomes fifth as Raikkonen moves half a second behind Hamilton to go third.

The only men not to set a time are Rossi and Ericsson. Everyone from Grosjean down looks to be in trouble but crucially most drivers will take on the medium tyres so the current times are largely irrelevant.

Vettel asks Ferrari if they need to go again, on medium tyres. Ferrari replies it will wait and see.

Great on-board with Hulkenberg, who has a huge amount of understeer through Spoon. As I said earlier, the compromise between downforce and not clipping a car's wings in a straight line is they key to mastering this circuit and that Force India might need a tweak or two on the front wing.

Hulkenberg still manages ninth but that lap could have been better.

Perez also struggling with the front end through Spoon, neither Force India driver appearing to be getting much from their car at that part of the track.

Perez goes eighth fastest, comfortably out of the bottom five. Verstappen goes ninth quickest on the mediums.

Kvyat goes up to sixth, before Grosjean moves into fifth. Impressive stuff from Grosjean to cross quicker than the Red Bull on the mediums. Maldonado crosses four tenths down on Grosjean.

Ricciardo crosses in sixth, just 0.001s off Grosjean's time. Verstappen improves again to eighth and the Force india drivers are tumbling down the order.

Williams tells Massa he should be safe with his 1:34.744, which is currently good enough for tenth. Vettel is still in the garage so Ferrari obviously think he's safe in seventh too.

Rossi also out on track, he'll get just one shot at beating Stevens in the in-house Manor battle.

Alonso and Button both out on mediums but out come double-waved yellows and they'll have to lift off!

Verstappen has spun just after the Hairpin. He's out of the car and that will be his qualifying done and dusted - a shame for the 17-year-old after a strong practice.

Out come the chequered flags and that actually might have helped Alonso, but not Button, as no-one else can complete a lap.

Verstappen trudges away from his car. Rossi will have to ask permission to race after not setting a time.

Dropping out of Q3 - Button, Ericsson, Nasr, Stevens and Rossi.

We haven't seen a replay of Verstappen's moment but there's no skid marks around his car, suggesting a car failure.

"I was on a good lap!" Nasr says. "I know, I know," is the reply from Sauber. Looks like he was caught out as well. Ericsson also paying the price for that spin at Spoon as he only had the one lap to make it through to Q2.

"We wouldn't be in the position we are in if we didn't make any mistakes," Button says, referencing the communication issues earlier in the session.

The light goes green and Q2 gets underway. No early movement from any drivers.

That doesn't last long, however, as Rosberg and Hamilton venture out on track.

Remember, drivers that make it through to Q3 will start the race on the tyres they set their fastest lap on in this session.

Verstappen trudges back through the paddock. Toro Rosso would have been hoping for two cars in Q3 this afternoon. Bizarre we are yet to see a replay of that incident yet as Verstappen was parked at a strange angle with no tyre marks on the circuit around.

Peter Bonnington reminds Hamilton he needs a good clean lap and that this one is likely to be his quickest. Medium tyres all around now.

Rosberg crosses in a 1:32.632 to go P1.

Hamilton slots in one tenth behind his team-mate.

So Rosberg only finding two tenths on Hamilton's hard tyre benchmark from Q1 on the medium tyre.

Kvyat has destroyed his right front tyre with a lock up into the chicane. He crossed two seconds down so he'll need to pit for fresh rubber.

Bottas moves into third, seven tenths down, before Massa jumps ahead of him by less than a tenth.

Red Bull appears to have dropped off their pace from the morning now the engine modes are turned up fully, he's a whopping seven tenths down on Massa.

Perez has a lock up through the chicane and crosses ninth. Good lap from Sainz has put him in sixth behind Ricciardo's Red Bull.

Both Ferraris have started timed laps.

What does Ferrari have in response to Mercedes on the softer compound?

Grosjean crosses in tenth on his first run, 2.4s off the pace.

Ferrari has sentir cars out in formation. Vettel can only manage a time 1.2s off the pace but Raikkonen beats both Williams drivers. Game on in the battle for the second row.

Mercedes has breathing space of seven tenths, which will be music to their ears after Singapore.

The clock ticks past five minutes as the drivers return to the pits before the final run.

Three minutes to go and Hulkenberg is on a timed lap, slightly out of sync with the rest of the pack.

Unlikely we will see either Mercedes emerge from the garage.

Cut off time important and Hulkenberg has found a second since Q1. He crosses in 1:34.390. A low 1:34 may be the cut-off but Red Bull have reacted to that by immediately sending Ricciardo and Kvyat out.

Siddhesh says: "Strange how little difference people are finding between compounds. By the looks of it, maybe Mercs could have made it out of Q2 on Hards too!"

So, everyone from Ricciardo down out for another run. Vettel is nine tenths clear of the drop zone and feels comfortable.

"A lot of vibrations in these tyres," Sainz reports.

Hulkenberg returns to the pits having already set his time. He'll be an interested observer now...

Kvyat pushes Hulkenberg down a place but Alonso can't improve on his own time and will drop out of this session.

Perez jumps clear of the drop zone into eighth. Sainz can't improve on his time but Grosjean can and Hulkenberg drops into Q2!

Maldonado can only manage 13th. Red Bull tells Ricciardo to stop pushing on his lap, he ended up two tenth clear.

Hulkenberg likes finishing 11th in qualifying at the moment. That will become 14th once he serves his grid penalty.

Dropping out of that session are Hulkenberg, Sainz, Maldonado, Alonso, and Verstappen, who didn't run after his Q1 stoppage.

"I cannot do much more than this," Alonso tells McLaren. The man many say is the best driver on the grid in a car that can't do better than 14th. Not good for F1.

Verstappen tells the BBC he had an issue before his stoppage, and his odd car position was because he tried to pull off the race track.

So it's top-ten shootout time. The Mercedes are back out in a world of their own. The battle behind looks like it will be between Williams and Ferrari for a spot on the second row. Red Bull has dropped off the pace now their rivals have turned the engines up. Ricciardo seems to be getting everything he can out of that car.

The clock starts ticking - in 12 minutes we'll know who will be lining up on pole tomorrow.

Rosberg bolts out first.

Rosberg and Ricciardo start the first timed laps of Q3.

Rosberg sets a 1:32.584 for provisional pole but Hamilton has just gone purple through the first sector.

Hamilton seems to lose it in the middle sector, he loses out by 0.076s. Rosberg takes it on the first run - how can Hamilton respond later?

Great lap from Ricciardo, one second off the pace off Mercedes but several tenths quicker than his Q3 best.

Bottas goes third fastest, four tenths off Rosberg's benchmark. Grosjean crosses in fifth, 1.5s off the pace.

Massa slots in behind his team-mate, before Vettel splits the Williams drivers into fourth!

Raikkonen can't hook his lap together this time around and crosses in sixth.

Replays showing Hamilton's untidy middle sector, with lock ups at the Hairpin, a messy entry through Degner 2 before a stab of understeer into Spoon. That suggests there is more to come from him - this one is far from over.

The gaps behind the Mercs: Bottas (0.440s), Vettel (0.661s), Massa (0.753s,) Raikkonen (0.763). That will be a great battle at the end of this session.

Those are ridiculous margins in Formula One. Literally inches.

The clock goes past three minutes and out go the drivers for their final attempts.

Great on board of Vettel coaxing his car through the Esses, suggesting the temperatures are dropping off very quickly on the hot laps.

Bottas starts the first lap of the second runs. He's provisionally third on the grid, can he lower his time further?

Oh big shunt! Kvyat has had a massive moment on the exit of the second Degner. Immediate red fglag for the session.

Actually, that's on the approach to the hairpin. He's absolutely destroyed the left hand side of that car.

Kvyat reports on the radio he is OK and gives marshals the thumbs up. What on earth happened there.

That will have handed Rosberg pole position as there's only 36 seconds left on the clock.

Great to see Kvyat clambering out of his car after that shunt. The damage to the car is massive.

Replay shows him touch the grass on the curved approach to the hairpin and spun into the barriers. The car spun upside down before landing down on the grass. Big driver error for Kvyat.

Concerning to see both Kvyat's tyres go flying away from the car.

Rosberg returns to parc ferme and waves to the crowd. I would have loved to see the final shootout between those Mercedes drivers given the small gap between them.

Big disappointment for Raikkonen after looking strong all afternoon and then dropping to sixth.

Big smiles and high fives on the Mercedes pit wall. A hint of relief under those smiles, I would say.

Amazingly, that's only Rosberg's second pole position of the year. A good indication of how much Hamilton has turned the tables in that battle on Saturdays.

"Unlucky there, mate," Bonnington tells Mercedes. He can't be too disappointed with second.

Well, a dramatic end to qualifying in Japan and that fight behind the Mercedes drivers, with Ricciardo's Red Bull lurking, will be a fascinating one tomorrow.