Lewis Hamilton responded to his team-mate's morning pace to go fastest in an eventful second practice session at Suzuka.
As the medium compound tyres were used for the first time, the Mercedes driver posted a 1:35.078, a full quarter of a second clear of Nico Rosberg.
The Silver Arrows looked in a class of their own at least over a single lap with Valtteri Bottas the only driver within a second of Rosberg in third.
As one of the traditional circuits on the calendar Suzuka, with its narrower circuit and smaller run-off areas, has a tendency to see more crashes than usual and certainly, as the drivers upped the speed, the circuit struck back with three crashes during the 90 minutes.
The first was local hero Kamui Kobayashi who lost control of his Caterham entering the Snake as the rear stepped out spearing the car into the barrier.
The second was a rare mistake from Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian simply understeered into the wall on the run through the final curve back onto the pit straight. In recovering the stricken RB10, a brief red flag was required spoiling some drivers who were on low fuel and the medium tyres.
Finally Esteban Gutierrez fell victim to a common crash as Suzuka losing his Sauber under braking for the Spoon curve and sliding into the wall on the outside.
Toro Rosso woes
The session also ended prematurely as Jean-Eric Vergne endured the same woes as his replacement for 2015, Max Verstappen, had in the morning.
Twice the STR9 pulled up with smoke coming out of the rear, early on just before the final chicane and then at the end of the session a loss of power and electronics left the Frenchman stuck on the run out of Spoon.
Reliability has been the Achilles heel of the junior Red Bull team all year, but when the car is running there is some good pace as Daniil Kvyat again made the top 10 claiming ninth in the sister car.
Also missing out on key running time was Sergio Perez as the Mexican only achieved eight laps in his Force India.
Gearbox problems seemed to be the cause with Checo, as he is known, unable to drop into the lower gears.
In a disappointing day for the Silverstone-based team Nico Hulkenberg was also below the average in terms of lap only managed 16 in the afternoon and finishing 12th.
An errant rainstorm looked set to bring some late disruption, although likely some welcome wet running to the session, however, with Vergne's issue and the clouds just holding off the teams were left with a full day of dry running heading into a potentially wet weekend.
That means the data collected could prove worthless depending on if the Typhoon affects particularly the race, however, based on the longer runs towards the end a two-stop race looks the way to go if it stays dry.
For Lewis Hamilton too, he seems to have the edge once more over his team-mate Nico Rosberg. Behind Red Bull will likely show their hand a little more on Saturday and, given their usual policy, Williams too could become a greater threat as well but for now at least it seems the dark clouds that maybe on the horizon certainly have a silver lining.