© FOTO ERCOLE COLOMBO

Brazilian Grand Prix Practice – Ferrari

Brazilian GP – Felipe and Fernando measure up under the Sao Paolo sun
Interlagos, 25 November – The nineteenth and final round of the Formula 1 World Championship got underway this morning at a sun-kissed Interlagos circuit with the first free practice session. Quickest of the 24 cars on track was Mark Webber’s Red Bull (1.13.811) ahead of Jenson Button in the McLaren (1.13.825) and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton (1.13.961.) Scuderia Ferrari focussed on two elements this morning, looking at the latest parts introduced on the car and preparation for Sunday’s race.

Felipe Massa ended up fifth fastest in 1.14.507, covering 27 laps, while Fernando Alonso’s session came to a premature end with a few minutes remaining, after his engine broke. By then, the Spaniard had completed 26 laps with the sixth best time of 1.14.541. Both Ferrari men started off on the Medium tyres, before switching to experimental Hards which Pirelli has supplied for today.

Brazilian GP – Ferraris take fourth and sixth in Interlagos free practice
Interlagos, 25 November – The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa ended up in fourth and sixth places after the second session of free practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix, taking place this weekend at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit. Replacing his spent engine a few minutes before the end of the morning session with one already used during the season will not bring a penalty for the Spanish Scuderia Ferrari driver. He set the fourth quickest time (1.13.598) just behind the best of the session, Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren (1.13.392), Sebastian Vettel (1.13.559) and Mark Webber (1.13.587) in the Red Bulls.

After starting out on the experimental Hard tyres brought to the Brazilian round, both Ferrari drivers went on to test the two compounds on offer by Pirelli – Medium and Soft. Felipe Massa set the sixth fastest time (1.13.750) after 39 laps at his home track in a session that was disrupted by a series of yellow flags that made it hard to analyse the long runs. For Scuderia Ferrari there is one more hour of free practice available tomorrow morning before the decisive qualifying session scheduled for 1400 local time.

Brazilian GP – The usual Friday scenario in Interlagos
For Scuderia Ferrari, the final Friday of the 2011 season ran to the same plot it has followed throughout this final part of the season: a first session given over mainly to development of new components for next year, the second one revolving chiefly around preparation of the car for qualifying and the race. The only difference to many of these Fridays was the opportunity to evaluate two sets of additional tyres Pirelli supplied as part of its 2012 preparation. Both Ferrari men completed a lot of kilometres, with the local man Felipe Massa doing two laps more than a Grand Prix distance at this track (71) while his team-mate stopped ten laps from the theoretical chequered flag.

Fernando Alonso: “It was not an easy day, because we have still not managed to find the right balance on the car. Therefore, we must wait and see if and by how much we manage to improve its handling and therefore, how competitive we can be in tomorrow afternoon’s qualifying session. In particular, I am not happy with the rear end of the car. The engine? These things happen and it did not cost me much time, less than I lost on Friday in India. We will have to wait for the engine to arrive in Maranello, where it will be opened up and the engineers will be able to get a better idea of what the nature of the problem was. This won’t cause any problems for qualifying and the race, when we will fit another one. Honestly, at least looking at what we saw today, I think that in the dry we are a bit less competitive than usual: I don’t think I can fight with the Red Bulls and McLarens and, on top of that, one of the Mercedes is very quick. However, there’s a very high chance of rain, so anything could happen. If I could choose today, I would opt for a wet race because, in normal conditions, we can only expect a fifth place in qualifying and to fight for a podium place in the race.”

Felipe Massa: “I am very happy to be racing here in my country, Brazil. I am also pleased this is the last race in a season that has been far from inspiring: if I had to mark myself out of ten, I think I would waver around the five mark. From Monday, we will be able to concentrate totally on 2012: we must improve in all areas, but above all on the aerodynamic front, which in the current Formula 1 is the design element of the car that has the biggest effect. However, we must not overlook every detail, because it can be the little things that lead to a perfect car. Today, the lap times were slower compared to last year’s: maybe the tyres Pirelli have brought here are harder than the Bridgestones and also the temperatures are higher. We tried a lot of different settings and now we must put it all together to try and be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and especially for the race. The rain? We must be ready to tackle any situation. We don’t have anything new, but I really hope we can do a good job and end the season on a high note. A podium would be fantastic and that would give me even more motivation for next season.”

Pat Fry: “Once again today, we had a lot of work to get through, especially with an eye to next year. Even if the day did not flow as smoothly as silk – we had to interrupt Fernando’s last run this morning because of an engine problem – we managed to complete our planned programme: now comes the job of analysing all the data gathered, which falls mainly to our colleagues back in Maranello, who are working flat out on the design of the new car. In the afternoon, we concentrated on finding the best balance on the car and on evaluating tyre behaviour over short and long runs. I would say there is still a lot of work to do in this area, because neither driver is yet happy with the handling of his car, but there is still plenty of time to work on improving the situation before tomorrow afternoon’s qualifying. The weather is another unknown factor regarding the rest of the weekend: at the moment there is a strong chance of rain affecting the race on Sunday, but we know how easily the forecast can be proved wrong.”

First session Second session
Driver Pos. Time Laps Pos. Time Laps Chassis
F. Alonso 6th 1.14.541 26 4th 1.13.598 35 291
F. Massa 5th 1.14.507 34 6th 1.13.750 39 290

Weather

First session: air 23 °C, track 30/35 °C. Sunny. Second session: air 27/25 °C, track 41 °C. Sunny.