The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Centigrade).
Mercedes was surprisingly off the pace in Singapore, but expects to return to dominance on the higher-speed Suzuka circuit where Hamilton won previous year ahead of Rosberg and Vettel.
Red Bull Racing teammates Ricciardo and Russian Daniil Kyvat entered a sumo ring in Tokyo where they faced off against the huge Japanese athletes.
Felipe Massa expressed his reservations after his Williams slid into the gravel approaching the hairpin, while Kvyat’s seemingly reasonable query about his brakes not working was met by a terse: “Try to be more positive!”
In the closing half-hour, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, and Mercedes and Ferrari were the only drivers to do any serious running. The Virtual Safety vehicle was put into force before the actual safety auto was called out, Hulkenberg was judged to have caused the accident and has been given a three-place grid penalty for Japan.
“Max, just do it!” came the reply after Verstappen’s refusal, but he was later exonerated by team principal Franz Tost, who explained that Sainz wouldn’t have been able to catch Sergio Perez, the man in front of the Toro Rossos. Vettel was fifth for Ferrari ahead of team-mate Kimi Räikkönen.
All the quick times were set in the first half-hour of the session as the rain that has been falling all day was at its lightest. Then Vettel went off at Turn 1.
And Hamilton has backed Mercedes to bounce back in Japan this weekend despite suggestions to the contrary in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s race.
“As to what happened in Singapore, it was specific to Singapore”, said Hamilton, who was left fuming after a small metal clamp fell off his vehicle, ending his bid for an eighth victory of 2015.
Because of the rain, only 12 of the 20 drivers posted a timed lap by the end of the 90 minute session.
Neatly encapsulating the way his season has gone, the double world champion cut a forlorn figure staring out into the gloom for the first 40 minutes, and eventually finished 17th.
Halfway through FP2 the order was: Kvyat, Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Vettel, Raikkonen, Sainz, Verstappen, Nasr and Maldonado.
The Spaniard had been stranded in the pits earlier in the session because his vehicle had needed an engine change after a problem was found with the one he used in the first practice.