Rosberg cautious of Red Bull threat in Japan after Friday practice

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Nico Rosberg remains wary of the threat posed by Red Bull at Suzuka following Friday’s Formula 1 practice running ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Rosberg led both practice sessions ahead of teammate and drivers’ championship rival Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes dominated proceedings at Suzuka.

Red Bull’s leading driver in FP2 was Max Verstappen, who finished eight-tenths of a second adrift of Rosberg over one lap, but the German is wary of the threat the team may pose given it did not complete a time on the soft-compound tire.

“It’s been a case of finding my way today. It began with quite a lot of understeer and we had to work through the setup in order to find a better balance on the car,” Rosberg explained.

“In the afternoon, the medium tire didn’t seem as strong as the hard as we saw in Malaysia. However, on the soft tire we showed good one-lap pace, the balance felt good and the track was really exciting to drive.

“It looks like we’re ahead of the Ferraris, but it remains to be seen as to where we are compared to the Red Bulls.”

Following his agonizing retirement when leading the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend, Hamilton felt grateful to have a trouble-free Friday despite trailing Hamilton in both sessions.

“It’s been a really good day with no problems on the car which is great. We managed to get plenty of laps in but there’s still some work to be done overnight in order to find more pace,” Hamilton said.

“That’s a work in progress and hopefully we’ll be going into Sunday in good shape. It’s great to be here in Japan and I’m excited to get out on track again for qualifying tomorrow.”

Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN from 2am ET on Saturday.