Brazilian Grand Prix Practice: Rosberg In Control

Nico Rosberg has made the best possible start to the weekend after topping both sessions ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

The German who trails Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the world championship by twenty-four points with just two rounds remaining seemed to have the edge over Hamilton all throughout the day, however the Brit was on a lap that would have been slightly quicker than Rosberg however Hamilton opted to pit, mind games perhaps on Hamilton’s behalf?

Tyres dominated the day. Pirelli originally opted to bring the medium and hard compounds to Interlagos however their minds were changed. The circuit is currently under redevelopment, this not only means the facilities but also the track itself.

With fresh tarmac being put down, Felipe Massa believed that the compounds would have been a safety concern. Pirelli opted to go for more of an aggressive approach based on the Brazilian’s advice, and they may live to regret that decision with many drivers complaining of blistering tyres.

Sergio Perez was forced to sit out of FP2 as his Force India team opted to fix the car overnight. Perez made way for reserve driver Daniel Juncadella who crashed in the morning session, leaving Perez on the back foot heading into qualifying tomorrow.

As well as getting to grips with the circuit, unreliability also gave the teams another headache. Jenson Button stopped in his McLaren early on in the morning session with an electrical problem meaning he was unable to complete a lap, the problem was fixed for the afternoon yet the Brit who looks to be out of a drive for next season could only manage sixteenth place.

Red Bull looked highly competitive in the early stages of the second session. Daniel Ricciardo was swapping fastest laps with both Mercedes drivers, however he was unable to keep up the pace. The Australian set a respectable time that was good enough to go fourth fastest just .260 behind the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen who had an eventful day to say the least.

The Finn who won the 2007 championship in Brazil spun numerous times throughout the day and almost collided with Hamilton in the afternoon, despite his troubles Raikkonen had showed good pace all day. Fernando Alonso finished the afternoon with a fire, the Spaniard suffered an engine failure in the closing stages meaning his day was done.

Williams have work to do and probably feel as if they should be higher up the pecking order. Valtteri Bottas led the hometown hero Massa in fifth and sixth as Daniil Kvyat continued to impress. The Russian who will drive for Red Bull next season finished the morning in a highly impressive third place and then went on to finish eight fastest in the afternoon. Jean-Eric Vergne in the sister Toro Rosso did not manage to set a time during the day. The Frenchman stepped aside for Max Verstappen in FP1 and was then hit by unreliability in FP2 as his car stopped on the circuit.

Sebastian Vettel ended the day in ninth place ahead of the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen whilst Pastor Maldonado beat teammate Romain Grosjean for eleventh place. Force India’s struggles continued as Nico Hulkenberg could only manage fifteenth place ahead of both Sauber’s and Button.

With rain predicted tomorrow and cooler temperatures forecast for the race on Sunday, today’s times should not be looked into too seriously. Whilst it is clear that Mercedes are ahead, the challenge from behind looks extremely close.

Free Practice 2 times

1.Nico RosbergMercedes1:12.123
2.Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.213
3.Kimi RaikkonenFerrari+0.573
4.Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing Renault+0.833
5.Valtteri BottasWilliams Mercedes+0.912
6.Felipe MassWilliams Mercedes+0.976
7.Fernando AlonsoFerrari+0.999
8.Daniil KvyatToro Rosso Renault+1.131
9.Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing Renault+1.210
10.Kevin MagnussenMcLaren Mercedes+1.356
11.Pastor MaldonadoLotus Renault+1.374
12.Romain GrosjeanLotus Renault+1.591
13.Nico HulkenbergForce India Mercedes+1.759
14.Esteban GutierrezSauber Ferrari+1.779
15.Adrian SutilSauber Ferrari+2.081
16.Jenson ButtonMcLaren Mercedes+2.086
17.Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso Renault+5.048
18.Sergio PerezForce India MercedesNo Time