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Brazilian GP 2016

NOVEMBER 12, 2016

Practice 3 Report - Damp but dry

Nico Rosberg
© The Cahier Archive


By Dan Knutson in Interlagos

Rain right at the start of Free Practice 3 left the track slick for a while, but eventually the drivers were able to switch to dry weather tires even though the track remained damp in places. Fastest of all in the drying conditions was Nico Rosberg who clocked a time just 0.093 of a second quicker than Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes “ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari “ Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes “ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer “ Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Force India Mercedes “ Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault “ Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari “ Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari “ Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda “ Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes “ Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Haas Ferrari “ Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

Hamilton had topped the times on Friday.

"We got through all of our run programs and the car is feeling really good," he said after FP2. "It's pretty tough out here physically right now with the heat as high as it is. Not just in the car but for the guys in the garage too. Finding the right balance isn't easy either in these conditions as the tires are getting really hot. But our long run pace seems to be strong so we can be happy with the start we've made today."

It had been hot and sunny on Friday “ the track peaked out at 129 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Centigrade) but the weather conditions turned cool and drizzly on Saturday. The ambient temperature at the start of the 60-minute session was 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Centigrade). There was a 70 percent chance of rain.

And rain it did. A few drivers headed out with Pirelli's extreme or intermediate wet weather tires fitted to their cars.

Wet. No standing water, Vettel radioed. Just wet.

Dry, but drizzling a lot, was Rosberg's verdict.

It was one of those typical conditions at Interlagos where the track was greasy but not drenched. Slippery but also semi-dry in other places. And so just nine minutes into the session Hamilton headed out on the soft compound slicks, only to lock up his brakes and go off track at Turn 4.

Hamilton recorded a lap time of 1: 16.980. Next, Bottas tried the soft compound Pirellis and clocked a 1:15.048.

As the session approached the one-third mark, Massa turned a 1:13.848. Only three drivers had set times at this stage, but now a few more were venturing out on slicks.

"The rain also has the effect of washing all the rubber off the track: so the track evolution cycle starts all over again," Pirelli tweeted.

Raikkonen lowered things to a 1:12.860 and then to a 1:12.530.

Just before the halfway mark of FP3 the order was: Raikkonen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Massa, Perez, Bottas, Magnussen and Grosjean.

There were a few changes in that line-up in the second half of the session, but some of the drivers were now doing long runs and not going for fast laps.

Ricciardo wasn't hanging about, though, and he used the soft tires to clock a 1:12.287 with less than 15 mines to go.

Now others were doing their soft tire runs. Rosberg went to the top with a 1:11.787, and Verstappen moved into second.

Just under 10 minutes remained when Hamilton began his fast lap on the softs on the damp but now really drying track. He set a 1:11.833, so slotted into second behind his teammate.

Just under two minutes remained when Vettel jumped from seventh to third.

The final top 10 order was: Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Bottas, Palmer, Massa and Alonso.