The 29-year-old German, who is 24 points behind Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship with two rounds remaining, was fastest ahead of the Briton in both the morning and the afternoon sessions.
Hamilton is seeking his sixth win in succession and 11th of the season in Sunday’s race, but Rosberg is bidding to end that momentum.
Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari was third fastest ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull, Valtteri Bottas and his Williams team-mate and local hero Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, who was seventh in the second Ferrari.
Daniil Kvyat was eighth for Toro Rosso ahead of four time champion Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen in the leading McLaren.
Jenson Button was 16th in the second McLaren on a steaming hot day at Interlagos where the prospective 18-car grid was reduced to 17 on Friday when Spanish test driver Daniel Juncadella crashed Sergio Perez’s Force India car during morning free practice.
Perez had to sit out the afternoon session which was equally disjointed with three separate red-flag interventions.-AFP