Rosberg keeps Mercedes ahead in FP2 at Sepang

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Nico Rosberg has continued Mercedes good form during practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix by finishing the second session quickest on Friday afternoon at Sepang.

The German driver followed the example set by teammate Lewis Hamilton – who topped the opening session earlier today – to finish fastest of all with a best lap of 1:39.909, edging out Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by just 0.035 seconds.

Following a difficult start to the season in Australia last weekend, Ferrari finally appears to have found some pace as Raikkonen was joined at the head of the field by Fernando Alonso, who finished in fifth place but was less than two-tenths of a second behind Rosberg’s time. Furthermore, the long-run pace of the F14 T was also encouraging.

However, the Ferrari drivers weren’t alone at the sharp end of the field, as the top seven drivers were covered by less than four-tenths of a second, suggesting that we could be in for a tight tussle for pole position tomorrow in qualifying.

Sebastian Vettel banished his demons from last weekend to finally find some form and finish the session in third place, whilst teammate Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top seven. Hamilton was unable to repeat his form from FP1, but he did finish in a very respectable fourth place. Felipe Massa ran well for Williams to finish sixth.

Pastor Maldonado’s day failed to improve though as the Lotus driver did not complete a single lap, with the problem that he suffered during FP1 still having an adverse effect on his car.

The drivers and teams will now take this data away from the track and prepare for the third and final practice session tomorrow. This will act as their final chance to get their cars set up ahead of qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix, which is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 4am ET.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.