Brazilian GP Preview | Hamilton’s champion so time to trial fresh concepts

Preview the Brazilian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2017 Formula One season.

Lewis Hamilton may have clinched his fourth Formula One crown at the Mexico Grand Prix to draw level with Vettel, but that does not mean the season is over. With two rounds still on the table, and a chance to look ahead at the 2018 season. Starting at the Brazilian Grand Prix, once again an emotional race as Formula One wishes Felipe Massa a fond farewell as he retires from the sport, again.

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Brazilian Grand Prix Preview

For the penultimate race in the 2015 season, Formula One returns to Interlagos for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

After a glorious return to Mexico, Formula One moves on to one of the permanent fixtures on the calendar, the Brazilian Grand Prix. The race at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo has been on the F1 calendar since 1973 and will this year host its 44th Grand Prix, where Hamilton will look to break his Brazilian duck.

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Nico Rosberg claws back seven points in the drivers championship after victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton

Almost a perfect weekend for Nico Rosberg with victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix. The German now sits just 17 points behind Lewis in the drivers championship after Hamilton was forced into settling for second best in Brazil.

Throughout the weekend Rosberg has held the advantage over Hamilton, topping each individual free practice session and then each individual qualifying session. Leaving Lewis second on the grid, behind Nico but ahead of the flying Williams’.

Two drivers were forced into dropping back down the grid after qualifying with Sergio Perez demoted to eighteenth and Kvyat demoted to seventeenth. As for Sutil, the team discovered a late problem with his car and were forced into a technical change leaving the German with a pit lane start.

But when the five red lights were turned back off, the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix was underway with Rosberg leading the field through the Senna S.

A calm opening to the race saw no first corner contact but come the end of the back straight Vettel was falling behind Alonso and Magnussen after the reigning World Champion ran wide.

As the short laps began to get ticked off, Rosberg began to extend his lead to Lewis. But for some, the soft tyres had begun to degrade too much and pit stops were the new trend.

Maldonado had engaged the pit stops frenzy on lap 5 but the high temperatures at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace meant even once drivers were on the mediums, degradation levels remained high and blistering became a serious threat.

When the two Mercedes men completed their first pit stops they found themselves running behind Hulkenberg and Kvyat for the lead. But by pitting a lap later Lewis had been able to reduce the gap to Rosberg and now found his Silver Arrow under Rosberg’s gearbox.

Unfortunately, as the two worked their way back into first and second, Rosberg was able to regain the lost ground. Then over the subsequent laps Nico maintained his lead as Hamilton’s front right tyre began to heavily degrade.

Degradation had been an issue for all with the high temperatures, but after 22 laps Lewis did not seem to be affected by the wearing tyres and posted a new fastest lap of the race.

On the other hand, down at Lotus it was a different matter as Grosjean continued to lap without pitting. The Frenchman had started the race on the medium tyres unlike most of the grid and found the life to last twenty-five laps on one set of tyres. But before he could pit, he was forced into allowing Magnussen, Alonso and Vettel to all to power ahead.

One lap after Maldonado and it was pit stop time for Massa. The Brazilian from Sao Paulo took to the pits for the second time, but sat in his box for a little longer thanks to a 5 second stop/go penalty after speeding in the pits during his first stop. However, his nine second stop was nothing compared to his team-mates, when Bottas was forced into a lengthy stop after his mechanics needed to adjust his seat belts.

Two lengthy stops for Williams meant a podium finish was fading out of sight but in terms of the lead, Lewis was pushing hard.

Nico had himself pitted for a second time handing the Brit a temporary lead. But ahead of Lewis’ stop, he posted an even faster fastest lap of the race. However the potential to gain the undercut was snatched away from Lewis after a half spin at turn 4 when his rear stepped out under breaking.

Once Lewis regained control he carried on his way but took to the pits and upon his exit he was sat with a 7 second deficit to his team-mate for the lead. Given his speed before the stop, Lewis was aggravated at the spin and floored the throttle as the began to reel in Nico.

Over the next few laps Lewis continued to eat away at Nico’s lead but for Ricciardo, it was the end of his race. As Daniel made his way around the circuit he felt a problem with his front brakes on lap 40 and crawled back to the pits. The team later confirmed that it was actually a front suspension failure that caused his retirement.

Ten laps later, and after another round of pit stops, the gap between Hamilton and Rosberg for the lead had been reduced even more. Now Lewis sat within a second of his team-mate and kept an ever looming presence behind Nico and within DRS range.

However for Massa, his next pit stop caused a bit of laughter in the Williams garage when their driver originally pulled into the McLaren box instead of his own. The mistake only cost the Brazilian a second and before pitting he sat in no mans land between the Mercedes & fourth place. Then once Massa was back on track, he picked off Hulkenberg and regained the final podium spot.

A little further down the road came Raikkonen and Button as the two spared for fifth place. Jenson made an early attempt to move ahead of Kimi on lap 56 but the Ferrari man held strong and dove back down the inside.

Jenson had been forced to sit behind the Ferrari a little longer before he could make his next strong move. But on lap 61 he moved his McLaren in front at turn 4. Unfortunately for Kimi, Sebastian Vettel used this moment to move ahead of his potential new team-mate and chase down Button.

Over the next few laps Lewis and Nico began to trade fastest laps as the Brit searched for a way into the lead. However the two latched onto traffic and were forced to delay their fight.

But fights were not hard to find in Sao Paulo as Alonso attacked Raikkonen. The two Ferrari men were on different strategies at the time with Fernando on much fresher tyres but that did not stop Kimi from defending.

Alonso had attempted numerous manoeuvres to gain the position from Kimi but on lap 68 he finally found his way in front. The Spaniard charged up the hill, latching onto Kimi’s slipstream and engaged the DRS before blasting into sixth place.

Now as the chequered flag came into sight Rosberg continued to keep Hamilton at bay and after 71 laps of racing, Nico picked up his first win since Germany back in July.

Hamilton finished the race 1.4 seconds behind his team-mate and saw his championship lead cut down to 17 points. This means Lewis can still settle for second place behind Rosberg in Abu Dhabi and still win the championship. But, with double points, third or worse whilst Nico wins would mean Rosberg becomes the 2014 World Champion.

Felipe Massa may have finished the race 39 seconds behind Lewis in Brazil, but the Sao Paulo boy picked up the podium position ahead of Button, Vettel and Alonso.

As for Massa’s team-mate, Bottas had to settle for tenth place and the single point just six tenths of a second ahead of Kvyat.

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 71 Winner 1 25
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 +1.4 secs 2 18
3 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 71 +41.0 secs 3 15
4 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 71 +48.6 secs 5 12
5 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 71 +51.4 secs 6 10
6 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 71 +61.9 secs 8 8
7 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 71 +63.7 secs 10 6
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 71 +63.9 secs 12 4
9 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 71 +70.0 secs 7 2
10 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 70 +1 Lap 4 1
11 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 70 +1 Lap 17
12 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 70 +1 Lap 16
13 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 70 +1 Lap 15
14 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 70 +1 Lap 11
15 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 70 +1 Lap 18
16 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 70 +1 Lap 13
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 63 +8 Laps 14
Ret 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 39 Suspension 9

Rosberg tops qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, ahead of Lewis Hamilton

Nico Rosberg kept his Silver Arrow flying on top in Brazil to secure pole position for tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton by three hundredths of a second.

Nico went into qualifying on the back of a practice clean sweep, topping each of the sessions ahead of Lewis. But the margin between the two was always minimal as Rosberg looked for ways to reclaim lost ground in the championship battle.

But come 2pm in Sao Paulo, the green light flicked on and qualifying began with Sutil taking to the track. As more drivers began to venture out, the Sauber man prepared to start his flying lap which saw the benchmark be set at 1:13:401.

A lot of drivers opted to head out onto the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace with the soft tyres for their first runs, which in turn saw Sutil’s benchmark come crumbling down. Some drivers had taken the medium tyres out at first, but soon returned to the pits to change for the option tyres and set faster laps.

For the drivers pounding in the laps on the soft tyres, Massa moved into P1 as the Williams continued to show their contention. However Hamilton was knocking Massa off almost immediately before Rosberg stormed ahead by over half a second.

The two Mercedes men began to exchange the top spot, with Hamilton going purple in each of the sectors. But Rosberg was not going to give up his top spot easily and moved ahead once more.

After the first ten minutes came to an end, Vettel exited his garage and set about posting his first timed lap. Unfortunately for him it was un-competitive and outside the 107% rule but when he next crossed the line, he moved into P12.

When the chequered flag began to wave, Vettel remained on the borderline of safety. Luckily for him, despite being unable to improve, he made his way into Q2 after Grosjean, Vergne, Perez and Maldonado failed to push the German into the drop zone.

As Q2 got going, Hulkenberg and Gutierrez rolled out of their garages and onto the track.

Hulkenberg had become the sole Force India driver in qualifying following Perez’s elimination, but his early banker time was half a second slower than his fastest in Q1.

Once again as the times began to drop, it was the Mercedes drivers locking out the top spots. The duo traded purple sectors across their laps but come the finish line, Nico was ahead by four tenths of a second.

When the drivers returned to their garages mid-session Sutil, Kvyat and Ricciardo were yet to post a time in Q2. And as the final stages kicked in Sutil and Ricciardo headed back out, unlike Kvyat who carries over a grid penalty from Austin.

Button also stayed in his garage as McLaren chose not to run again in Q2. At the time Jenson sat in fifth place, eight tenths down on Rosberg and 1.2 seconds away from the drop zone. But the risk of staying in paid off as the Brit saw no threat in the final stages.

For the drivers still competing to beat the drop, Hulkenberg found some time on his previous lap but failed to move out of P10 as Alonso moved up to P7. Raikkonen also improved to move ahead of his Ferrari team-mate and would later end the session in P7.

As the chequered flag began to wave once more, Ricciardo found himself knocking Gutierrez into the drop zone with the Aussie moving into P7. Gutierrez was joined out of qualifying by Hulkenberg, Sutil and Kvyat with Alonso surviving by three tenths of a second.

After one minute of Q3 had ticked by no cars had exited their garages, but Hamilton broke the silence and took to the track ahead of Rosberg.

With a clear track at hand, Lewis posted the first Q3 time of the day and his personal best of the day. But Rosberg was able to shy Lewis’ 1:10:195 by three hundredths of a second to move back ahead.

Valtteri Bottas was the next man to come across the line and despite a scruffy lap, he moved into third. Third has been Valtteri’s position on the grid for three races in a row going into Brazil, but Massa moved ahead with his banker Q3 time. Surprisingly Massa was just six hundredths of a second behind Hamilton, with the top three separated by just eight hundredths.

Going into the final five minutes the order stood with Rosberg leading from Hamilton, Massa, Bottas, Button, Magnussen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Alonso. Although neither Ferrari had posted a time in Q3.

When Kimi eventually exited the pits for his sole run, he was able to go P7 ahead of the Red Bulls but almost a second behind Rosberg.

As the other drives began their final flyers, Ricciardo moved back ahead of Raikkonen, with time remaining for another flyer. In that time Massa flew around the first sector, quicker than the Mercedes but scuppered the lap later on.

Meanwhile Hamilton was looking to snatch pole from Rosberg but a lock up at turn 10 saw the Brit lose time and the chance to really challenge his team-mate.

Hamilton was able to finish the lap quicker than his previous best, but Rosberg was still pounding out another fastest lap and snuck ahead by just three hundredths of a second.

Meaning Rosberg will start tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix from pole position ahead of Hamilton. Massa ended the session ‘best of the rest’ in front of his home fans, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas in fourth.

Like Massa, Button had the better of his team-mate but also the Red Bull’s and Ferrari’s around the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, securing P5.

Despite finishing Q2 yesterday in the top three, Raikkonen ended qualifying in tenth place at the circuit he secured his World Championship at in 2007.

But in the race tomorrow will Hamilton be able to leap ahead of Rosberg like at the United States Grand Prix one week ago? Or will Nico claw back some vital points in this years drivers World Championship?

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:10.347 1:10.303 1:10.023 14
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:10.457 1:10.712 1:10.056 14
3 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:10.602 1:10.343 1:10.247 17
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:10.832 1:10.421 1:10.305 17
5 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:11.097 1:11.127 1:10.930 16
6 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:11.880 1:11.129 1:10.938 19
7 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:11.134 1:11.211 1:10.969 16
8 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:11.558 1:11.215 1:10.977 18
9 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:11.593 1:11.208 1:11.075 20
10 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:11.193 1:11.188 1:11.099 18
11 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:11.520 1:11.591 18
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:11.848 1:11.976 14
13 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:11.943 1:12.099 17
14 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:11.423 9
15 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:12.037 8
16 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:12.040 10
17 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:12.076 9
18 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:12.233 7
Q1 107% Time 1:15.271

Brazilian GP: Rosberg shows his dominance once again in FP3

Three out of three practice sessions topped by Nico Rosberg after the German got the better of his team-mate and championship rival once again in practice.

Nico had secured the top spot in both FP1 and FP2 ahead of Lewis Hamilton for the first time this season. But the gap between the two was marginal to say the least. Not only that, Lewis claimed after the second free practice session that he had not been able to hook up a flying lap which suggests Lewis still has some time to find around the Autodrom Jose Carlos Pace.

Other pointers to take from Friday was the poor pace shown by Button in his McLaren, the interrupted running for Gutierrez in his Sauber & Vergne in his Toro Rosso. As well as Sergio Perez not being able to carry out a single lap in FP2 after Juncadella crashed his Force India in FP1.

But that was all yesterday and come 11am in Brazil, the hour long final free practice session kicked off with Maldonado, Grosjean, Bottas, Massa and Raikkonen all heading straight out on track.

After a handful of drivers joined the early birds out on track for some installation laps, the first times began to hit the board after six minutes with Vergne and Perez. Although the early laps are never flying, Vergne held the early lead with a 1:15:117 before improving the benchmark to 1:13:993 a few laps later.

As the early stages began to tick by, the Toro Rosso pair of Vergne and Kvyat began to draw the benchmark into the 1 minute 12s. However, Vergne would soon lose his top spot as the Mercedes powered Williams’ of Massa and Bottas slotted into the top two.

Now the benchmark sat at 1:12:070 through Massa, with Bottas just one hundredth of a second back. Even Hamilton would have loved to be in that spot after 17 minutes, especially with Lewis suffering with locking under breaking.

Firstly Lewis heavily locked his front right tyre under breaking for turn 8, leaving a large black spot on the tyre. Then just minutes later he was locking up again. But this time the lock up came at turn one along with a spin as he lost control of the rear.

Hamilton was not the only driver struggling to slow down in time, with Jean-Eric Vergne also finding himself taking to the run off at turn 1. But instead of spinning, the Frenchman continued down the run off and used the same escape road Max Verstappen used yesterday morning.

As the end of the first half hour approached, the order stood with Massa leading from Raikkonen, Bottas, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Alonso, Magnussen, Vergne, Sutil, Maldonado, Button, Vettel, Grosjean, Gutierrez, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Perez and Hamilton. At this stage the only tyre to be used had been the medium compound tyres, but some drivers were beginning to make the switch onto the softs.

Eventually more and more drivers put the pedal to the metal on the soft tyres and the benchmark set by Massa began to tumble. First up came Alonso as the Spaniard flung his Ferrari into P1, bettering the all time lap record for the Autodrom Jose Carlos Pace set by Juan Pablo Montoya in 2004.

But still to come were the Silver Arrows with Nico Rosberg shooting his Mercedes above the Ferrari by almost a second. Lewis Hamilton then came across the line in his tweaked Mercedes but lost time over the course of the lap, which ended one tenth down.

When the Williams pair returned to the track on the soft tyres, they were again showing their pace as they locked out P3 and P4. Although Bottas came across the line two tenths down on his team-mate, the Finn still remained within six tenths of a second of Rosberg despite the German’s dominance thus far in Brazil.

And at the chequered flag it was Rosberg who once again had his name above the rest on the time sheet after his 1:10:446 had the better of Lewis by 1 tenth of a second. Ferrari and McLaren were unable to challenge the front order with the two teams locking out P6 through to P9.

Force India will be searching for improvements between now and the start of qualifying after their two drivers ended the session slumped down in seventeenth and eighteenth.

Pos No Driver Team Time/Retired Gap Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:10.446 28
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:10.560 0.114 20
3 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:10.875 0.429 21
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:11.054 0.608 23
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:11.188 0.742 11
6 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:11.210 0.764 19
7 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:11.316 0.870 15
8 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:11.399 0.953 8
9 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:11.499 1.053 19
10 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:11.834 1.388 26
11 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:11.967 1.521 21
12 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:12.069 1.623 29
13 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:12.184 1.738 27
14 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:12.235 1.789 30
15 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:12.235 1.789 29
16 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:12.286 1.840 24
17 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:12.324 1.878 17
18 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:12.942 2.496 25

Brazilian GP: Rosberg maintains the momentum in Brazil after topping FP2 ahead of Hamilton

The momentum man in Sao Paulo continues to be Nico Rosberg after the German topped the second free practice session, whilst team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton was forced into settling for second best once more.

Back in FP1 earlier in the day, Rosberg was able to find the time around the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace to top the session by two tenths of a second to Hamilton. Behind the Mercedes came Kvyat in his Toro Rosso as the Russian led the rest.

After sitting out FP1, Vergne and Perez returned to action in place of Verstappen and Juncadella. However Perez saw no action early on in FP2 after complicated repairs to the car following Juncadella’s crash left the mechanics at work to the rear of his Force India.

Come 2pm in Brazil, the green light flicked on and the session was underway with Gutierrez taking on some early mileage before posting the first lap time, a 1:18:173.

Gutierrez had been forced into missing most of FP1 and was taking things slow at the start of FP2, which left his early time as no challenge to beat and the early benchmark began to fall.

As the minutes began to tick by, more and more drivers hit the track. But for Jean-Eric Vergne, his session was over after just ten minutes.

Jump back a few minutes and JEV was reporting a lot of vibrations at the front end, especially when he hit the brakes. But ten minutes into the session, he lost all power and parked his Toro Rosso at turn 4. Unfortunately the car was stuck in gear and the marshals struggled to move the stricken Toro Rosso, leading to the session being red flagged.

Luckily the marshals managed to move the car soon after and the session was back underway a few minutes later. Now another driver was facing a premature end to their session as Gutierrez was told that he had a MGU-K problem.

Meanwhile, the fastest driver on the track was once again Nico Rosberg as the German posted the new fastest lap of the session with a 1:14:681.

With Rosberg at the top, Hamilton was pushing hard to find some pace against his team-mate. However, Lewis had to settle for third as Ricciardo moved on top despite a lively rear end. Ricciardo would not stay top for long however, as Hamilton flew around the middle sector on a flying lap that moved his Silver Arrow into P1.

As the opening half hour came to a close, a slight mix up between Hamilton and Raikkonen almost left the Mercedes crawling back to the pits. Both drivers had begun to make their way around turn 8, however Hamilton moved onto the inside as he slowed down and rode the kerb in order to allow Raikkonen by. Despite this Kimi’s Ferrari edged towards the apex of the corner, leaving a small gap between the cars.

Now into the final hour, teams began to bolt on the soft compound tyres. One of the early runners on the yellow branded Pirelli tyres was Daniel Ricciardo.

With the faster compound of tyres bolted onto his Red Bull, Ricciardo was able to regain his earlier spot at the top with a 1:12:956. However, despite lapping the circuit quickest of all, he struggled to slow down and was forced into taking to the grass across turn 1.

Once drivers had the soft tyres fitted to their cars they were able to find a range of time with some improving by a few tenths to some improving by over a second on their first flying lap.

For the Mercedes duo, Rosberg found the necessary improvement to regain P1 from Ricciardo after finding around a second. Whereas Lewis could only take second place on his first lap after running wide at turn 11.

Lewis continued to struggle with keeping his car on track at the start of his next lap but it was becoming clear that the soft tyre are fastest on the first flying lap. Although this did not prevent Hamilton from reducing the deficit to his team-mate before returning to the pits.

With the first hour approaching its climax, Kimi Raikkonen was able to move his Ferrari into the top three. However, things were far from perfect for the Finn as just moments later, he was heading on an adventure across he grass down at turn 12 after running wide.

Compare this to his team-mate and Kimi’s problems seemed like nothing as just a few minutes later, Alonso was parking his car just after turn 3.

The clock was just five minutes into the final half hour and Fernando’s Ferrari was billowing smoke as flames began to blaze at the rear of his car. With the need to recover the car, the red flags were waving once more to stop the session whilst Alonso set about extinguishing the flames.

As the clock flicked onto 16 minutes remaining, the session was back underway but the drivers would only see two minutes of running before another red flagged stopped play.

This time Esteban Gutierrez was forced to park his Sauber just after the pit exit. But despite the Mexican being closer to the pit exit and further onto the grass, the red flag was out once more. Both these red flags late on in the session would have caused havoc with the teams as they would have interrupted with any race simulations.

Now just nine minutes remained on the clock when the track was green once more. With all 14 drivers still able to run in the second free practice session taking to the track.

Despite just a handful of minutes remaining there was plenty of time left for the drivers to experience difficult levels of grips as their tyres began to approach the end of their lives.

But come the chequered flag it was another Mercedes one-two led by Rosberg. Hamilton finished the session two tenths down on his team-mate once more, whilst Raikkonen rounded off the top 3 three tenths back.

FP2 was not a great session for McLaren with Magnussen in 10th their best result after Button ended the session in 16th. Force India also failed to impress in the session with Hulkenberg in 13th, 1.7 seconds off Rosberg’s pace, whilst Perez was unable to complete a single lap.

Pos No Driver Team Time/Retired Gap Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:12.123 36
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.336 0.213 36
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:12.696 0.573 32
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:12.956 0.833 24
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:13.035 0.912 31
6 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:13.099 0.976 27
7 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:13.122 0.999 20
8 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:13.254 1.131 35
9 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:13.333 1.210 28
10 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:13.479 1.356 33
11 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:13.497 1.374 33
12 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:13.714 1.591 37
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:13.882 1.759 32
14 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:13.902 1.779 25
15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:14.204 2.081 36
16 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:14.209 2.086 31
17 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:17.171 5.048 5
18 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes No time 0

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