Brazilian GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report

Wet Beginnings

Nico Rosberg, Brazilian GP 2013

Nico Rosberg, Brazilian GP 2013 

 © Active Pictures

 

The first practice session for the final grand prix of the season got off to a wet beginning as Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton topped the rainy Free Practice 1 for the Brazilian Grand Prix. It had been hot and sunny on Thursday, but a front moved in overnight and it was cooler and drizzling on Friday morning with a 90 percent chance of rain for the rest of the day.

The ambient air temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius.)

Jules Bianchi (Marussia) was the first driver out on the wet and slippery circuit.

Pirelli brought a version of its 2014 slick tires to Brazil and the teams planned to try them out on Friday. But it was rain tires all round.

Some of the drivers were using Pirelli's full wet tires with the blue sidewalls, and the rest were on the intermediate tires with the green sidewalls.

Daniil Kvyat was in the Toro Rosso for FP1 in place of Daniel Ricciardo. The Russian was getting experience for 2014 when he will race fulltime for Toro Rosso. Paul di Resta also sat out the session as James Calado drove his Force India. And Rodolfo Gonzales was in Max Chilton's Marussia.

As usual, everybody did an installation lap or two and then headed into the garages where it was dry to have their cars checked over. With a good chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday, it was essential to get some practice laps in on the wet track.

Jenson Button set the first time – 1:26.184 – in his McLaren 14 minutes into the session. On his next lap he lowered that to a 1:25.391. It had stopped drizzling as Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) lowered the best time to a 1:24.781 while his teammate Lewis Hamilton had a spin at Turn 3 at 20 minutes into the session,

15 minutes into the session, Rosberg slid off the track and continued at Turn 1.

27 minutes into the session, Hamilton moved into second with a time of 1:25.277. The track was still wet and the drivers were now all on the intermediate tires. Button was now third with a 1:25.391.

30 minutes into the session, Rosberg turned a 1:24.781 and Hamilton a 1:25.230. Red Bull teammates Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel as well as Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and Calado had yet to set a time.

McLaren's Sergio Perez was fourth and the only other driver below the one minute 26 second barrier.

38 minutes into the session, Fernando Alonso moved his Ferrari into fourth with a time of 1:25.593.

42 minutes into the session, Vettel headed out on Pirelli's hard compound slick tires. The track was still far too wet, however, and he tiptoed back to the pits.

Midway through FP1 the top six were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Perez and Kvyat.

With 40 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel went out on Pirelli's prototype slicks and with some monitoring equipment fitted to his Toro Rosso. It started to rain harder and he again pitted, but the team radioed to him that they had got the data they needed.

With the track getting wetter the lap times were getting slower. With 37 minutes remaining in the session only six drivers were on track. Webber and Vettel still had not clocked a flying lap.

With 33 minutes remaining in the session, there was a bit of drama as Grosjean tripped over Guido van der Garde's Caterham.

With 31 minutes remaining in the session, Webber climbed into the cockpit of his Red Bull. The mechanics fitted intermediates to his car. Only three drivers were out on the circuit.

At the one hour mark the top six remained the same. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus), Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber), Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) rounded out the top 10.

With 25 minutes remaining in the session, Webber finally headed out. Gutierrez and Grosjean were the only two other drivers on the track. Gutierrez soon pitted leaving the other two circulating. Webber clocked a 1:26.141, good enough for eighth place.

With 17 minutes remaining in the session, Webber improved to 1:25.797 and fifth place. Vettel was lapping now as well, and his first timed lap was a 1:26.333 which was 12th fastest.

The weather forecast said that the rain would stop with about 15 minutes remaining in the session.

With 12 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel grabbed fourth with a 1:25.634. A faint, dry racing line was starting to appear in some corners as more drivers headed out. Vettel then improved to third with a 1:25.387.

With 3 minutes remaining in the session, Gutierrez had a quick spin.

The session ended as it began with the track wet. The top 10 at the end of FP1 were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Alonso, Webber, Perez, Kvyat, Kovalainen and Hulkenberg.


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