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FP2 - Hamilton closes the gap, but Rosberg stays in front

07 Oct 2016

Nico Rosberg maintained his slender advantage over Lewis Hamilton in Friday’s second practice session at Suzuka, lapping less than a tenth of a second quicker than his title rival.


Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg ROS Mercedes 1:32.250 35
2 44 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:32.322 +0.072s 35
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen RAI Ferrari 1:32.573 +0.323s 26
4 33 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing 1:33.061 +0.811s 29
5 5 Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari 1:33.103 +0.853s 34
6 11 Sergio Perez PER Force India 1:33.570 +1.320s 37
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg HUL Force India 1:33.873 +1.623s 35
8 14 Fernando Alonso ALO McLaren 1:33.985 +1.735s 37
9 77 Valtteri Bottas BOT Williams 1:34.028 +1.778s 33
10 55 Carlos Sainz SAI Toro Rosso 1:34.086 +1.836s 33

Hamilton had taken the initiative early on, going fastest on the hard tyre with 1m 33.475s to Rosberg's medium-tyre best of 1m 33.758s, but on the softs the German managed to regain the advantage with 1m 32.250s to Hamilton’s 1m 32.322s.

However, in qualifying simulations on soft tyres, Mercedes’ advantage over the rest of the field proved far smaller than in FP1, with Kimi Raikkonen just 0.3s off Rosberg’s benchmark for Ferrari, despite struggling with understeer and at one point briefly running off the road.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and the other Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel also got within a second of the ultimate pace, but the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo failed to set a representative time after his best lap was spoiled when Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas stopped with a technical issue, triggering the virtual safety car.

Force India maintained their status as the fourth quickest team with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg sixth and seventh, while Fernando Alonso continued to offer Honda hope at their home race by placing his McLaren in P8.

The top ten was completed by Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.

The other Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat was responsible for the session’s most lurid moment, the Russian sending his STR11 into a 360 spin coming out of the final corner after touching the grass. There was also a brief moment of excitement as Rosberg left the pit lane with smoke billowing from his Mercedes, but all was well.

With rain forecast for qualifying, and possibly for the race, this could be the last dry running the teams achieve this weekend.