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.

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski