Nico Rosberg overhauled Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets in Friday’s second practice at Interlagos, almost half a second up on the triple World Champion.
Changeable weather conditions looked set to play a role in the outcome of Friday’s second practice but the rain never fell hard enough to really affect the track’s surface.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg set the pace on the medium compound tyre with the Brit’s 1:13.634 a tenth quicker than his team-mate’s best.
Swapping to the soft tyres the Mercedes pairing reserved their positions. Hamilton was the first out and went purple in each sector. However, Rosberg behind him eclipsed him every time.
The Brit posted a 1:12.843 only for Rosberg to cross the line with a 1:12.385, almost half a second quicker.
There was a brief moment of worry for Rosberg as he reported a “problem on the up shift second to third”. However, a drive through the pits and a practice start showed that whatever the issue was, it was resolved.
Sebastian Vettel was again third behind the Mercedes team-mates, 0.960s down, while Kimi Raikkonen finished in fourth place.
Daniel Ricciardo, running the new spec Renault engine, was fifth ahead of Valtteri Bottas, Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg.
The Mercedes drivers also showed good pace on their long runs, running in the 1:16s on the soft tyres before dropping into the low 1:17s. Vettel was up there with them leading to a belief that Ferrari could challenge come Sunday’s Brazilian GP.
Meanwhile Fernando Alonso’s day came to a premature end as his MP4-30 expired after just 30 minutes. The double World Champ ran off the track but got back on with a smoking McLaren. He reported “no power” as the smoke turned to flames and he was told to “stop the car” which he did bringing out the afternoon’s only red flag.
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:12.385 42 laps
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.843 +0.458 39 laps
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.345 +0.960 41 laps
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:13.500 +1.115 43 laps
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:13.585 +1.200 39 laps
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:13.603 +1.218 37 laps
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:13.634 +1.249 45 laps
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:13.710 +1.325 43 laps
9 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:13.848 +1.463 40 laps
10 Felipe Massa Williams 1:13.870 +1.485 42 laps
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:14.056 +1.671 34 laps
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:14.124 +1.739 42 laps
13 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:14.134 +1.749 44 laps
14 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:14.226 +1.841 35 laps
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:14.326 +1.941 45 laps
16 Jenson Button McLaren 1:14.644 +2.259 37 laps
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:14.772 +2.387 38 laps
18 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:15.129 +2.744 10 laps
19 Will Stevens Manor 1:16.501 +4.116 35 laps
20 Alexander Rossi Manor 1:16.787 +4.402 35 laps