Nico Rosberg edged team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just seven hundredths of a second to take top in the second free practice of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend at Suzuka. Rosberg’s best time of the session was 1:32.250.
After Ferrari ended the first practice session more than a second off the pace set by Rosberg, there was encouragement for the Italian squad, as Kimi Raikkonen got to within four tenths of Rosberg’s time at the end of the afternoon’s performance runs.
In the morning it had been two-by-two, with Mercedes followed by Ferrari and Red Bull in the second session the Italian team’s drivers were split by the Red Bull Racing car of Max Verstappen who finished eight tenths of a second behind Rosberg but almost half a second adrift of Raikkonen.
There was less pace on display from Verstappen’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian’s qualifying simulation was disrupted when Esteban Gutierrez stopped on track. That resulted in the VSC being deployed just at the start of Ricciardo’s flying lap and he was forced to abandon the attempt. He finished in P12, almost two seconds off the pace.
With Verstappen fourth, fifth place in the session went to Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari. The German finished just four hundredths of a second behind his team-mate.
Force India, meanwhile, replicated their finishing positions from the morning, although this time the order was reversed, with Sergio Perez seventh on a time of 1:33.570, three tenths clear of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was eighth fastest with a time of 1:33.985. The Spaniard finished just shy of four hundredths of a second clear of William’ Valterri Bottas, with Carlos Sainz a further five hundredths of a second back.
2016 Japanese Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.250 35
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.322 35
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:32.573 26
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:33.061 29
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.103 34
6 Sergio Perez Force India 1:33.570 37
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:33.873 35
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:33.985 37
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:34.028 33
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:34.086 33
11 Felipe Massa Williams 1:34.127 33
12 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:34.150 29
13 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:34.241 33
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:34.305 27
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:34.339 36
16 Jenson Button McLaren 1:34.398 29
17 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:34.643 11
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:34.760 40
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:34.824 26
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:35.292 30
21 Esteban Ocon Manor 1:35.400 37
22 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:36.318 26