Rosberg fastest on opening day of practice at Suzuka

Fri Oct 7, 2016 9:59am EDT
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By Abhishek Takle

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - World championship leader Nico Rosberg ended the opening day of practice for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix in a strong position after setting the pace in both sessions on Friday.

The German clocked his fastest time of one minute, 32.250 seconds on an overcast afternoon in Suzuka in the second of Friday's two sessions, after having topped the timesheets at the end of the morning.

Rosberg's Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton was second in both and although the Briton was 0.214 seconds off his title-rival's pace in the morning, he closed the gap to just 0.072 seconds in the second session.

“It’s been a case of finding my way today,” Rosberg told reporters.

“It began with quite a lot of under-steer and we had to work through the setup in order to find a better balance on the car.”

Rosberg extended his advantage over Hamilton to 23 points in the overall standings after the reigning champion was forced to retire 16 laps from the finish while holding a comfortable lead during the last race in Malaysia.

Hamilton heads into Sunday's Japanese round desperately needing to revive his title hopes by clinching a third successive win at the Suzuka circuit.

Their Mercedes team could also wrap up their third successive constructors' crown on Sunday.   Continued...

Mercedes' driver Nico Rosberg of Germany walks in the paddock area before first practice.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai