‘They seem a lot closer’ - Rosberg wary of Red Bull threat

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Nico Rosberg thinks Red Bull can pose a genuine threat to Mercedes at the Japanese Grand Prix, saying the Milton Keynes-based outfit “seems to be a lot closer”.

The German swept the two Friday practice sessions ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton at Suzuka.

While Ferrari was the second quickest team in both FP1 and FP2, Rosberg admits he is more focussed on Red Bull, which is coming off a stunning 1-2 finish in Malaysia, though this was aided by Hamilton’s engine-related retirement from the lead.

“It’s been a case of finding my way,” the current F1 points leader said of his Friday showing. “It began with quite a lot of understeer and we had to work through the setup in order to find a better balance on the car.

“In the afternoon, the medium tyre didn’t seem as strong as the hard as we saw in Malaysia.

“[We had] decent one-lap balance and times are okay and the race pace we’re looking good as well. Red Bull seems to be a lot closer, a bit similar to Malaysia.”

Rosberg has been on pole position across the past two editions of the Japanese GP. Asked about what it takes to set the fastest time in qualifying, the 31-year-old replied: “Balance has to be spot on here.

“It’s so crucial with those Esses, one corner leads to the next and if you get the first one a bit wrong then the rest of them are going to be wrong too. So you really need to nail it.”

Rosberg failed to convert his Suzuka poles into victory though, with Hamilton winning the race on both occasions.

Chris Medland's 2016 Japanese Grand Prix preview

Technical snapshot - Malaysia

Scene at the Malaysian Grand Prix

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix - Quotes of the week

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