Japanese Grand Prix: Nico Rosberg stays on top in practice two

Nico Rosberg again held the upper hand over Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton in second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix

Japanese Grand Prix: Nico Rosberg stays on top in practice two

After beating Hamilton by two tenths of a second in the first session at Suzuka, the polesitter for the last two races at this track then edged his Mercedes team-mate by just 0.072 seconds in practice two.

There was a minor scare for Rosberg 13 minutes into the session when he pulled out of his garage with wisps of smoke emerging from the back of his Mercedes.

As Rosberg then waited at the end of the pitlane to start off, the smoke became slightly thicker and billowed out for a few seconds, although there was little sign of any trouble thereafter.

Rosberg soon posted the fastest lap at that stage on a set of the medium-compound Pirelli tyres with a 1m33.758s, only to soon be beaten by 0.283s by Hamilton on the hard tyres.

Come the quicker laps on the soft-compound rubber, Rosberg set a 1m32.250s that was to remain unbeaten throughout the session.

Hamilton was quickest in the first sector soon after, but lost out in the second and third to miss out on top spot on the timesheet by a slender margin.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen finished third quickest, just over three tenths of a second off the pace, but half a second up on team-mate Sebastian Vettel, with both on soft tyres.

In between the pair was Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who like Vettel was almost eight tenths adrift of Rosberg's lead time.

As for Verstappen's team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, winner last time out in Malaysia, the Australian was forced to abort his quick lap on soft tyres due to a virtual safety car period.

That was prompted by Esteban Gutierrez parking his Haas at the side of the track approaching Degner after a turbo issue.

It was the second problem of the day for Haas as Romain Grosjean had suffered yet another brake problem in practice one just days after his retirement in Malaysia when a brake disc exploded.

Ricciardo was left to finish 12th quickest, almost two seconds down, but with his time of 1m34.150s having come on the hard tyres while all in front did a quick lap on softs.

Force India pair Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth and seventh fastest, with three tenths of a second separating the duo.

There was no repeat of the morning's crashes, but Daniil Kvyat was involved in a high-speed spin coming out of the final corner, avoiding damage as he managed to catch the Toro Rosso in a full 360-degree pirouette.

PRACTICE TWO TIMES:

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.250s - 35
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m32.322s 0.072s 35
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m32.573s 0.323s 26
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m33.061s 0.811s 29
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m33.103s 0.853s 34
6 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m33.570s 1.320s 37
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m33.873s 1.623s 35
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m33.985s 1.735s 37
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m34.028s 1.778s 33
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m34.086s 1.836s 33
11 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m34.127s 1.877s 33
12 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m34.150s 1.900s 29
13 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m34.241s 1.991s 33
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m34.305s 2.055s 27
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m34.339s 2.089s 36
16 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m34.398s 2.148s 29
17 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m34.643s 2.393s 11
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m34.760s 2.510s 40
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m34.824s 2.574s 26
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m35.292s 3.042s 30
21 Esteban Ocon Manor/Mercedes 1m35.400s 3.150s 37
22 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m36.318s 4.068s 26


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