It was a small edge - just 0.003s - but one which allowed Valtteri Bottas to top Friday's second free practice session in front of team mate Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was third, just 0.073s behind the afternoon's leader, while Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen rounded off the top-five.
2018 Brazilian Grand Prix Free Practice 2 times
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:08.849s||+ 0.003s||43|
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1:08.919s||+ 0.073s||42|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:09.164s||+ 0.318s||44|
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:09.339s||+ 0.493s||28|
|6||Kimi Räikkönen||Ferrari||1:09.412s||+ 0.566s||42|
|7||Romain Grosjean||Haas||1:09.769s||+ 0.923s||44|
|8||Charles Leclerc||Sauber||1:09.943s||+ 1.097s||44|
|9||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1:10.007s||+ 1.161s||39|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India||1:10.159s||+ 1.313s||45|
|11||Sergio Pérez||Force India||1:10.320s||+ 1.474s||23|
|12||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1:10.330s||+ 1.484s||44|
|13||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||1:10.332s||+ 1.486s||36|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Renault||1:10.458s||+ 1.612s||48|
|15||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||1:10.532s||+ 1.686s||44|
|16||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||1:10.569s||+ 1.723s||46|
|17||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||1:10.596s||+ 1.750s||26|
|18||Lance Stroll||Williams||1:10.662s||+ 1.816s||44|
|19||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||1:10.734s||+ 1.888s||46|
|20||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault||1:11.674s||+ 2.828s||6|
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was first to leap into action when the green light came on at the start of the second Friday free practice at the Autodromo José Carlos Pace.
His first lap on mediums stopped the clock at 1:10.587s, and while he trimmed a tenth off the next time around he was soon displaced by team mate Sebastian Vettel's 1:09.990s.
Daniel Ricciardo nipped in front by 0.093s but the Red Bull was swiftly eclipsed by Valtteri Bottas, the Mercedes driver opening his post-lunch account with a lap of 1:09.668s that was itself quickly beaten by Vettel's latest effort which put the Ferrari a tenth of a second back in front.
Meanwhile, in the Red Bull garage, FP1's fastest runner, Max Verstappen, was in waiting mode as his mechanics tended to an oil leak on his RB14. "The oil tower has developed a crack," Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1, admitting that it had probably happened in Mexico and it was fortunate that it hadn't cost Verstappen his victory there.
Just ten minutes into the session, proceedings were abruptly halted by red flags when Renault's Nico Hulkenberg ran wide and crashed heavily at Turn 13, sparing himself any injuries but severely damaging his R.S.18
Once the wrecked chassis had been swept up and dispatched back to pit lane, the session resumed with most drivers keen to get back to work.
Not among them was Vettel, who had reported "there's something loose between my legs, apart from the obvious!", quickly adding: "I'd be proud if it was what you think it is but it's not!" before anyone else could. The Ferrari engineers went to work, fearing a possible issue with the suspension.
Out on track, Raikkonen was back up to speed and topping the timing screens with his latest effort of 1:09.508s despite a little lock-up along the way.
Lewis Hamilton responded and punched in a lap of 1:09.245s on a fairly old set of soft tyres, which survived early supersoft challenges from Vettel and Bottas.
Eventually Vettel found some extra time and went top with 1:08.919s - the fastest time of the day so far despite increasingly windy conditions.
However he remained happy with the car, reporting over the team radio that "there’s still something lose, jumping back and forth" and the pit crew once again went to work searching out a suspected errant piece of debris that had found its way into the cockpit.
Bottas took the opportunity to pop in front of the Ferrari by 0.073s. When Hamilton eventually made his own supersoft run he was just three thousandths of a second off his team mate's time.
Repairs over, Verstappen finally joined the fray and was soon up to sixth place on the timesheets on a set of soft compound tyres.
However, with rain threatening to move in, teams started to switch to long distance runs rather than qualifying simulations.
Twelve laps into a long run on softs, Hamilton reported over the radio that "Something just doesn't feel right". But a pit stop resulted in a quick check before he was sent back out, problem apparently solved, although he would later complain about the rear of his W09 "not working".
Among the heavy runners in FP2 was Sauber's Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari-bound driver putting himself comfortably in the top-ten, a performance that bodes well for a run in the points come Sunday.
In the closing stages of the session, Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz enjoyed a feisty squabble into the first corner, with both men perhaps forgetting that it was free practice-Friday rather than the last lap on race day.
The skies remained menacing but the rain failed to appear, the session concluding with the Silver Arrows duo of Bottas and Haùmilton in command.