Mercedes, looking to fix a mysterious loss of pace in Singapore last weekend, shot out to the quickest times in the second session, before Kvyat backed up an impressive early display by edging ahead of Rosberg.
Daniil Kvyat reigned in the rain during Free Practice 2 as he clocked the fastest lap time in his Red Bull. Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton wound up second and third, and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top four in his Red Bull. “We will have to see at Suzuka if this is a one-off blip or a trend that is continuing”.
And the miserable conditions here on Friday were eerily similar to those which saw Bianchi skid off the track and hit the side of a crane deployed to recover Adrian Sutil’s stricken Sauber in last year’s tragic race. The rain limited running across the grid as the rest of the weekend is forecast to be dry. Exiting Turn 2, Bottas nearly lost the rear on a river of water running across the track and pulled off an impressive save as the Williams tried to swap ends twice.
Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Ferrari, with Lewis Hamilton settling for fifth place 1.2 behind Sainz.
Rosberg went out again with 15 minutes to go but did not improve.
“You don’t get many wet tyres for the weekend, so you never know, if it rains tomorrow…so we just did a few laps”.
“It has been a tricky day for testing anything really.” said Bottas “FP1 was productive though and we have found some improvements in the vehicle performance in the changeable conditions”.
“If [FP3] is dry it is going to be a very busy session”.
“It is slippery, wet and there was also aquaplaning; not the most exciting conditions”.
“The team has come up with a lot of solutions, a lot of reasons, for it being the way it was”, Hamilton, who was an astonishing 1.5 seconds adrift of Vettel in qualifying in Singapore before retiring from the race after a part broke on his engine.
Vettel had been the only driver on the track, but with 37 minutes remaining in the session, he pitted.
All the quick times were set in the first half-hour of the session as the rain that has been falling all day was at its lightest. The day ended with Will Stevens in P18 and new team-mate Alexander Rossi in P19, although lap times were largely unrepresentative.
Kimi Raikkonen, FP1 pace setter, Sainz, Max Verstappen, Felipe Nasr and Pastor Maldonado filled positions 6 through to 10, with Nico Hulkenberg eleventh and Jenson Button twelfth.