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F1 Japanese GP: Rosberg quickest again as Raikkonen and Red Bull loom

Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton again in second free practice for the Japanese GP; Kimi Raikkonen third and Red Bull quick on long run pace
RESULTS: Japanese Grand Prix – Free practice results (2)

Nico Rosberg has notched up the pressure on title rival Lewis Hamilton by topping the timesheets in second free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, with Kimi Raikkonen a close third and Red Bull showing form on long runs.

Having led the way comfortably in FP1, championship leader Rosberg was again the driver to beat in the afternoon turning in a best of 1min 32.250secs, with Hamilton falling just under a tenth short as the two title rivals proved otherwise closely matched around the Suzuka venue.

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Kimi Raikkonen was an eye-catching third fastest for Ferrari, a marginal three tenths behind the top spot but a full half-second clear of leading Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in fourth and Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari in fifth place.

Malaysian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, could only manage 12th on the timesheets after his soft tyre lap was spoiled by a Virtual Safety Car period deployed to shift Esteban Gutierrez's Haas, which had come to a halt following a suspected electronics issue.

Nonetheless, Ricciardo – along with Verstappen – will take some encouragement away from the first day of action having gone almost toe-to-toe with Mercedes on long run pace, particularly on the durable harder compound.

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Elsewhere, Force India consolidated its status as 'best of the rest', Sergio Perez leading Nico Hulkenberg with Fernando Alonso bouncing back from a troubled FP1 to lead the way for McLaren-Honda in eighth, from Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz.

With Gutierrez's session ended by problems, Romain Grosjean maintained the scathing criticism of his Haas on the team radio, largely complaining about brakes, while Jenson Button was another to struggle down in 16th position.

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