Formula 1 championship leader Nico Rosberg stamped his authority on proceedings in Austin, Texas ahead of the United States Grand Prix by topping the second free practice session on Friday afternoon.
Following his ninth victory of the 2016 season in Japan two weeks ago, Rosberg arrived in Austin leading the drivers’ standings by 33 points from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The German driver has started on pole for the past two years at the Circuit of The Americas, only to finish second to Hamilton on both occasions.
After seeing Hamilton lead FP1, Rosberg hit back in second practice to top the timesheets with a lap of 1:37.358, enjoying an advantage over the field of almost two-tenths of a second.
However, it was not Hamilton who played second-fiddle this time around. Instead, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shot up to P2, suggesting that the sizeable advantage Mercedes enjoyed in FP1 was exaggerated. Hamilton was left to settle for third in the final standings.
Second practice featured one short red flag period after debris was left on-track at the esses, appearing to come off the back of one of the Haas cars as the American team continued to struggle at the start of its home grand prix weekend.
Sebastian Vettel kept Ferrari in the mix at the front of the field in second practice, finishing within a second of Rosberg at the front in fourth place, while Max Verstappen ended the session fifth in the second Red Bull.
Force India continued its impressive start to the weekend as Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished sixth and seventh, with the McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso following in P8 and P9. Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top 10 in the second Ferrari as he struggled with front-end grip.