Nico Rosberg fastest in practice for Japanese Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg set the fastest time in yesterday’s practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, edging Mercedes teammate and Formula One title rival Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg set the quickest lap in both sessions, with his best at 1 minute, 32.250 seconds; just seven hundredths of a second better than Hamilton.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen was third, encouragingly only three tenths of a second off Rosberg’s time.
He was followed by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, then Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who won four faces in Suzuka between 2009 and 2013.
With five races remaining in the season, Rosberg holds a 23point lead over Hamilton, who had an engine failure while leading last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix but is chasing a hat trick of victories in Japan.
Rain is forecast for today’s qualifying session.
Rosberg’s afternoon got off to an uncertain start when he pulled out of his garage 13 minutes into the session with wisps of smoke emerging from the back of his Mercedes.
As he waited at the end of the pitlane, the smoke became slightly thicker and billowed out for a few seconds, but there was little trouble after that.
He soon posted the fastest lap on hard tires and then set the pace on softer tires to remain ahead throughout the session.