Formula One: Rosberg roars back to top Brazil practice

Rosberg was half a second faster than Britain's Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg was half a second faster than Britain's Lewis Hamilton. REUTERS

SAO PAULO (AFP) - Nico Rosberg bounced back after being left behind by a dominant Lewis Hamilton in the morning to top the times for Mercedes in Friday's second free practice session for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old answered the newly-crowned triple world champion's early speed by beating him by nearly half a second in the afternoon.

Hamilton, fastest by half a second in the opening session, was 0.458sec behind Rosberg, who posted a best time of one minute and 12.385 seconds during a strong run on soft tyres.

The softer compounds from Pirelli made an earlier than expected appearance at Interlagos as teams feared heavy rain, but apart from some slight drizzle, the track stayed dry.

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel was third fastest ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen with Daniel Ricciardo completing the top five in his Red Bull equipped with Renault's latest engine.

Valtteri Bottas of Williams was sixth, ahead of Romain Grosjean of Lotus, Nico Hulkenberg of Force India, Daniil Kvyat in the second Red Bull and local hero Felipe Massa in the second Williams.

The expected rain encouraged the entire field to work hard early in the session and Vettel and Bottas both topped the times before Rosberg took over, only to be outpaced by Hamilton before he bounced back.

Fernando Alonso of McLaren again suffered what seemed to be a Honda engine failure when his car stopped out on track midway through the session.

Both Bottas and Dutch teenager Max Verstappen in his Toro Rosso had spins as they pushed later in the session.