Brazilian GP: Rosberg has the first foot ahead in FP1

The penultimate race weekend of 2014 kicked off with Nico Rosberg on top. After lapping the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace two tenths faster than his championship rival, Nico has put the first foot ahead for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The opening practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix comes just five days after Hamilton took victory at the Circuit of The Americas. His win at the United States GP means Lewis carries a 24 point lead into Brazil and can settle for second best behind Rosberg here & in Abu Dhabi but still clinch the drivers championship.

Over the short break for travelling some big news even broke at Sauber for next season. They had already announced Marcus Ericsson will be joining the team as a race driver, and have now announced that he will be joined by current GP2 and Williams test driver Felipe Nasr. However this announcement throws up some uncomfortable situations for Sutil and Giedo van der Garde.

For Sutil, he may have some issues with the as he has another year remaining on his current contract with Sauber. As for Giedo, it was rumoured that he would get the Sauber race seat in 2015 and had even agreed a contract with the team before they announced Nasr.

Nevertheless, for the 18 men competing in Brazil this year FP1 began at 10AM local time with multiple drivers immediately heading out. Some sat at the end of the pit lane to carry out a practice start. But for Button, his session came to a temporary halt after just his installation lap.

Jenson had managed to make his way around the Interlagos circuit without a hitch, but as soon as he entered the new revised pit lane entry he lost all power. The sudden loss of power lead to Jenson pulling to the side and seek aid from the Marshals to get pushed into the pit lane whilst confirming “everything just switched off”.

With Jenson forced back into the pits, McLaren had a lot of work to do with Magnussen to compensate and this was clear to see with Kevin’s McLaren carrying two large aero rakes towards the front of the car.

After fifteen minutes of running in Brazil, it fell to Max Verstappen in the Toro Rosso to post the first timed lap. Verstappen had taken control of Vergne’s car for this session as the young Russian continues his preparations for his debut F1 season.

Verstappen’s lap however was a slow 1:19:999 and even he was able to improve vastly as the drivers became more accustomed to the low levels of grip. Although, the low levels of grip had led to a lot of drivers running wide and suffering minor offs.

Lewis Hamilton was even running wide in his early laps as Rosberg suffered a lot of understeer. But this did not stop the Silver Arrows shooting to the top and engaging their usual battle for P1.

When the opening half hour came to an end and drivers returned to the pits to exchange their tyres, Button’s issues were clear to see with his car surrounded with barriers warning mechanics off an ERS-related problem.

When the drivers ventured back out onto the track with their fresh rubber, the times continued to tumble with the track constantly evolving.

Kevin Magnussen was once again the driver breaking the silence as he brought his personal best lap time down. But by the end of his run, he still lingered off the pace set by the Mercedes. Who had stretched out their advantage at the top with both drivers moving into the 1 minute 12s.

As the first hour came towards a close, all on track came to a halt with the red flag waving. Daniil Kvyat had suffered a huge amount of oversteer going through turn 3 but managed to continue in his Toro Rosso moments before Juncadella buried his Force India in the tyre barrier.

Juncadella was competing in FP1 for Force India in replace of Sergio Perez, but two-thirds of the way through the session he was climbing out of the car at turn 8. As he broke for the corner, the rear of the car stepped out and as he corrected the direction of the car he was sent into the barrier.

Eight minutes later, the car had been cleared away and at 11:09 local time, the session was back underway. This time it was Lewis Hamilton breaking the silence with Button and Gutierrez still without a timed lap.

Over the next few minutes a handful of drivers hit the track looking for late improvements. But with the end of the session starting to loom, Max Verstappen was forced into an alternative route through the Senna S.

A huge lock up under breaking for the first corner forced Verstappen into missing his turn in point and began to enter the run off area where a medical car is kept. Luckily for Verstappen, he was not forced into spinning his Toro Rosso and go against the direction of the track as he was able to find an escape road that lead back to the track.

Juncadella and Verstappen was not the only driver suffering to stay on the track late on. Even the experienced Finn, Kimi Raikkonen, span out onto the run off at turn six and the rear of his Ferrari stepped out and span the car.

Unlike Juncadella, Kimi’s car completed the spin before stopping away from the barrier. But this was not the final time Raikkonen was sent in a spin. Following the chequered flag being waved, some drivers rounded up their sessions with a final lap but for Kimi, his final lap lead to another spin after he placed two wheels onto the grass at turn 12.

But at the end of the session, Kimi still remained in eight place behind the two Mercedes, two Toro Rosso’s, Massa, Maldonado and his team-mate, Fernando Alonso.

Kyvat may have finished the session in the top three for Toro Rosso behind only the Mercedes drivers but the Toro Rosso lingered eight tenths of a second behind Hamilton.

Jenson Button and Esteban Gutierrez rounded off the session in seventeenth and eighteenth after neither driver managed to set a lap time. For Jenson he was only able to complete the one lap right at the beginning of the session before his power failure.

Pos No Driver Team Time/Retired Gap Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:12.764 30
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.985 0.221 32
3 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:13.723 0.959 39
4 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:13.742 0.978 30
5 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:13.811 1.047 28
6 38 Max Verstappen STR-Renault 1:13.827 1.063 26
7 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:14.034 1.270 31
8 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:14.114 1.350 32
9 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:14.136 1.372 30
10 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:14.197 1.433 27
11 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:14.434 1.670 31
12 40 Felipe Nasr Williams-Mercedes 1:14.522 1.758 22
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:14.678 1.914 33
14 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:14.902 2.138 24
15 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:15.109 2.345 23
16 34 Daniel Juncadella Force India-Mercedes 1:16.030 3.266 17
17 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes No time
18 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari No time