Max Verstappen laid down a marker with the fastest time in the second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix on Friday, as he looks to put one hand on his third straight Formula One title.
Red Bull’s Verstappen, who leads teammate and nearest rival Sergio Perez by 151 points in the championship standings, was last out on the Suzuka track in dry conditions.
He put down a fastest lap of 1min 30.688sec to finish 0.320sec quicker than second-placed Charles Leclerc of Ferrari.
Verstappen cannot clinch the title on Sunday but a favourable result can set him up to seal the deal at the Qatar Grand Prix next month.
The Dutchman is looking to bounce back from a disappointing fifth-place finish in Singapore that ended his record streak of 10 straight wins.