Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull teammate Mark Webber ran 1-2 in the second Formula 1 practice session at Suzuka Friday afternoon.
The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg was little more than a quarter of a second down on Vettel in third.
In trying to keep up with the Red Bulls, several drivers went off course. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso both had moments at the Degners turn but with little damage, but Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado all went off course and ended their day early.
Perez clipped the Astroturf on the entry to Spoon with his McLaren's rear right and was pitched sideways into a heavy collision with the barriers.
Williams driver Maldonado hit the tires at Degner, just 12 minutes into the session. Raikkonen lost the rear of his Lotus and ended up beached in the gravel at Dunlop but still ended the session fourth fastest.
Vettel said afterward, "The car balance is decent, but I think we can still improve. Looking after the tires will be important here, especially during the race. The car works fine at the moment, but we need to make sure we set it up the right way. It’s good to see we are up there today, but it’s not always so important; we need to step up our game for tomorrow, as Mercedes will be strong in qualifying."
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