Rosberg tops second practice in Interlagos

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Nico Rosberg beat title rival Lewis Hamilton to the fastest time for the second session in a row at the Brazilian Grand Prix as practice at the penultimate round of the season got underway on Friday. Rosberg had an advantage of more than 0.2s in both sessions and finished second practice with a best time of 1:12.123. Hamilton was quicker in the twisty middle sector but lost speed in sectors one and three, which consist of longer straights. Friday practice is not always a true indicator of form, but Rosberg will hope he can maintain his advantage into the weekend as he attempts to close the 24-point gap to Hamilton in the drivers' championship. Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest despite a spin midway through the session. The Ferrari driver's quick lap was encouraging and just 0.573s off Rosberg, but he strayed onto the grass on a longer run at the entry to Juncao and had to rallycross over the grass to return to the track. The session featured three red flags in total, the first coming after just 14 minutes when Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso stopped on track. The session was halted again around the hour mark when Fernando Alonso's Ferrari caught fire and stopped on the straight running down to Turn 4. Alonso quickly jumped clear of the car and collected an extinguisher in order to put the fire out himself before the rescue vehicles arrived on the scene. In the final 15 minutes another red flag was waved when Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber ground to a halt at the same part of the track. The stop-start end to the session interrupted long runs for most drivers, but did not impact the fastest times as Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth ahead of the two Williamses of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Alonso set the seventh fastest time before his problem and was almost exactly one second off the pace of Rosberg at the front of the field. Daniil Kvyat, Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top ten with the two Lotuses just out outside. Jenson Button was more than two seconds off the pace but was making up for lost time after an electrical problem with his McLaren in the morning. Sergio Perez did not complete a single lap during both sessions after Dani Juncadella crashed his Force India in first practice. The car overheated while it was waiting to be removed from the tyre barrier and the team took the precaution of changing engine and hydraulic components during FP2.