Championship leader Nico Rosberg remained at the top of the times during Friday’s second free practice session at the Japanese GP in Suzuka. The Mercedes driver once again edged out team mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton, this time by a mere 0.072s.

Rosberg was fastest early on the Medium compound before Hamilton moved ahead on the Hard. When the Soft tyres came on, Rosberg posted a 1:32.250 while Hamilton narrowed the gap he had to Rosberg from FP1.

Ferrari were second best after Kimi Raikkonen once again out-paced Sebastian Vettel as the duo were 3rd and 5th, split by Max Versappen in 4th. The Finn was the only non-Mercedes car to dip into the 1m32s as he was just 3 tenths behind Rosberg.

Force India had another strong showing with 6th and 7th for Perez and Hulkenberg as the team look to consolidate their fourth place in the constructors’ championship.

Fernando Alonso was 8th with yet another decent performance by McLaren-Honda at the Japanese marque’s home turf. The other McLaren of Jenson Button, however could only manage 16th fastest with the Briton not running Honda’s upgraded package this weekend.

Carlos Sainz was tenth fastest, splitting the two Williams of Valtteri Bottas in 9th and Felipe Massa in 11th while his Red Bull senior Daniel Ricciardo only managed 12th fastest after abandoning his soft-tyre run when the VSC was deployed to recover the stranded Haas of Esteban Gutierrez.

Haas endured another dismal session after Romain Grosjean managed 13th fastest, complaining all session from brake problems while team mate Gutierrez ended up 17th.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was two tenths off his team mate’s time in 14th place and had a spectacular spin the final corner as he finished ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button in 15th and 16th.

Jolyon Palmer recovered from electrical gremlins in FP1 to come 18th ahead of Felipe Nasr in 19th after the Brazilian suffered a spin into Spoon Curve. His team mate came 22nd and last, behind the Manors, with Pascal Wehrlein beating Esteban Ocon by just one tenth.

FP3 picks up on Saturday at 12:00 local (GMT +9)

Image via via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

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Ahmad Shallouf

Contributing Writer at MotorsportM8