Two weeks removed from the potentially costly DNF he suffered in the Singapore Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg praised his Mercedes team for the car it provided in free practice for the Japanese F1 round.

Insisting that he has put his Marina Bay nightmare firmly behind him, and knowing that the three-point deficit he currently faces to team-mate Lewis Hamilton is easily surmountable, Rosberg was happy to settle for second spot - behind the Briton - on Friday's timesheets at Suzuka. He had earlier topped morning practice, ahead of Hamilton, and was just over a tenth shy of the 2008 world champion when a red flag pre-empted the chequers in the afternoon.

"It was a good day today," the German reported, "The car was very, very quick here, which was great to see. I think this track suits us, so it's an awesome feeling out there. The one lap pace is good - but it's good everywhere, one lap, long run, everywhere. I found a good balance also, and had a good long run at the end so, all in all, a good day. The team has brought a really great car here."

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Joining Hamilton in expressing surprise at the extended gap back to third-placed Valtteri Bottas - who ended the day 1.2secs off the pace - Rosberg also revelled in the challenge provided by the Suzuka layout.

"It's proper old school for sure," he enthused, "Except for turn one - where you have a bit of asphalt on the run-off - everywhere else is back in the Seventies.... It's very cool!"