Nico Rosberg set the fastest times in FP1 and FP2 on Friday with teammate Lewis Hamilton just under a tenth behind in the second sessions when they set their fastest times on the soft-compound tyres, the fastest available this weekend. The Mercedes look favourites again this weekend, but conditions are expected to change with rain expected for qualifying and the race.
Ferrari were the closest challengers to the Silver Arrows team on Friday with Sebastian Vettel and then Kimi Raikonnen taking the third place in the first and second sessions respectively. The Finn put in a good lap on the soft tyres in FP2 to go just three tenths slower than Rosberg. They are likely to improve going into qualifying and could challenge Mercedes, who are running a more conservative setup for the race in Suzuka.
Red Bull Racing was among the Ferrari's, but in keeping with recent races, their true pace will only be showcased on Saturday during FP3 and qualifying. Ferrari and the Austrian team are likely to be closely matched yet again like in recent races in Singapore and Malaysia.
Fernando Alonso showed impressive pace with an upgraded McLaren-Honda in what is their constructors' home race and was just behind the Force India duo but ahead of the fastest Williams of Valtteri Bottas. The Vijay Mallya-owned team looks to have the upper hand in their battle for fourth place with Williams, with both their drivers consistently scoring points.
Where to watch live
The third free practice session begins at 4am BST on Saturday and the qualifying session at 7am BST. Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports F1 HD will provide live coverage of both events in the UK. Real-time internet updates are available on the Live Timingsection of the sport's official website.
Top 10 results of the second practice session from the Suzuka International circuit, Japan: