RESULTS: Japanese Grand Prix - Free practice results (2)

Max Verstappen has teased Red Bull could have the package to challenge Mercedes in the Japanese Grand Prix after a positive opening day in free practice at Suzuka.

Just two years after Verstappen made his F1 debut in an FP1 outing with Toro Rosso at Suzuka prior to the his full season deal in 2015, the 19 year-old returns to Japan as a potentially challenger for victory following a strong start in FP1 and FP2.

Though forced to set his fastest FP2 lap on used soft tyres after his 'new' run was scuppered by a Virtual Safety Car period, Verstappen - second in Malaysia last weekend - says he is nonetheless very happy with his form on the long runs which were on a par with the Mercedes'

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"I think it's one of the best Fridays so far," the Dutchman, who was fourth fastest, said. "Everything seemed to work really well, the car handling is good, long run pace was good. I think we are quite happy but of course we still have work to do."

"At the moment the possibility very strong [to challenge for the win] so we will try to be close and hopefully with some rain tomorrow that could help us."

Indeed, Verstappen is hoping rain forecast in the area makes its presence felt to level a playing field and potentially increase Red Bull's chances of victory.

"In the wet we have even more of a chance to do a good job, so yeah, rain, I would like that. Hopefully we can be close to the Mercedes cars."

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