Brazilian GP – The final Friday of the season

The final Friday of the season for Scuderia Ferrari and the eleven other teams at the Interlagos circuit, host to the twentieth and final round of the 2012 World Championship. Between them, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa completed 131 laps, 65 for the Spaniard and 66 for the Brazilian. Both cars ran trouble free in very demanding weather conditions given the high temperatures.

Fernando Alonso: “It was very hot out on the circuit today and, especially this afternoon, the track temperatures were well above normal, even for this circuit. We have not yet found the ideal balance on the car, so there is still a lot of work to be done with the engineers going into the rest of the weekend. The predictions are for very different conditions from Saturday to Sunday, further reason to concentrate on the best choices when it comes to preparing the car for qualifying, but especially for the race. After so many Fridays, there is nothing much new to say about the tyres: the Hards appear to be more consistent, while the Mediums produce a quicker lap time. It’s hard to say if we prefer rain or the dry: as I said before, it is vital to be prepared to tackle both situations. We know we have to score 14 points more than Vettel for the Championship and not lose the same number to McLaren to maintain our second place in the Constructors’. Our targets are clear, but also difficult to achieve.”

Felipe Massa: “A very busy Friday in terms of our work on track, with a lot of kilometres completed to find the best set-up for the car. I am reasonably pleased with my times, especially when it comes to pace over a long run: I think I was the fastest man on track in the final part of the session. On my first lap with the Mediums, I lost a few tenth at the second corner, so, in terms of an outright time, I could have done even better than fourth place. The tyres are the same, but their performance is completely different to what we saw in Austin last week: definitely degradation is much higher here and so I don’t think we will see a one-stop strategy. The helmet? It’s odd not seeing anything yellow in the mirrors to the extent that sometimes I thought it wasn’t me at the wheel!”

Pat Fry: “We have reached the very tight finale and today it was important that we managed to complete our entire planned programme: we did it and that is already a first, if small positive step. We worked this morning on evaluating various aerodynamic solutions, while in the afternoon, we concentrated mainly on a comparison of the two types of tyre brought here by Pirelli. It’s always difficult to assess the hierarchy in the pit lane on a Friday and today was not different. From what we can see a few minutes after the end of the session, we can say that we are reasonably competitive, especially over a long run. We are well aware that, in order to reach our objectives, first and foremost we will need to be perfect in everything we do and be ready to exploit whatever opportunity might come our way. It’s not just the Drivers’ title that’s up for grabs, as there is also a second place in the Constructors’ classification which is actually something quite important for us.”

First session Second session
Driver Pos. Time Laps Pos. Time Laps Chassis
F. Alonso 5th 1.14.392 28 5th 1.14.592 37 295
F. Massa 6th 1.14.716 29 4th 1.14.553 37 294

First session: air 25/30 °C, track 37/43 °C. Sunny
Second session: air 34/35 °C, track 54/55 °C. Sunny

Brazilian GP – Hot times in Brazil

Interlagos, 23 November – He won a few days ago in Austin, Texas and Lewis Hamilton is still the man in form as the F1 circus has headed south from North to South America for the final act of this year’s thrilling championship. He was fastest in both sessions and ominously, Sebastian Vettel, the series leader and his Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber, have been second and third in both.

Even if Fernando Alonso was not totally happy with the set-up of his car, his performance was still good enough to end the day in fifth spot, behind his team-mate Felipe Massa. One expects the Brazilian to go well here at his home city and he was happy with his pace over a long run, enjoying a trouble free time, apart from a harmless spin at one point. Michael Schumacher completed his final Friday not just of the season, but of his illustrious career, by rounding off today’s top six in the Mercedes.

It’s fair to say everyone in the paddock was shocked to find that it was pretty cold in Austin last week and here, at the much more familiar venue of Sao Paolo, it has to be said that track temperatures well over 50 degrees Centigrade came as a bit of a surprise. It certainly made life complicated, particularly from a tyre point of view: here we have the same Hard and Medium tyres that were used in the USA Grand Prix, but on a track surface that is in any case more abrasive and grippy than the brand new tarmac in the States, so degradation is going to be much higher. How much of an effect that might have on Sunday’s championship shoot-out is arguable, because currently heavy rain is forecast, something that unlike today’s heat, is certainly not a surprise for Sao Paolo in November. And as Fernando said yesterday, it will take some special circumstances to get him home one point ahead of Vettel and circumstances come any more special than rain. However, before then, tomorrow the F2012 will need to be at its best in the dry to deal with qualifying. It’s going to be a tough one and starting a wet race from the middle of the field is never the safest option.

Brazilian GP – The final Friday of the season

Interlagos, 23 November – Having been fastest this morning, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton repeated the feat in the second free practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix with a time of 1.14.026. Once again behind him were the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel (1.14.300) and Mark Webber (1.14.523.) Following the lead trio come the Ferraris of Felipe Massa, fourth in 1.14.553 and Fernando Alonso fifth with a 1.14.592.

Both drivers ran virtually identical programmes this afternoon, which was completed with no problems on either car: two runs on the Hard tyres, one on the Mediums and the usual long runs with full tanks on the hard compound for Alonso and the softer one for Massa. Once again the pace of the two F2012s was encouraging over a distance. Tomorrow’s final free practice takes place at 11.00 when Scuderia Ferrari will focus on preparing for the all important qualifying which takes place at 2pm.

Brazilian GP – Time to experiment

Interlagos, 23 November – Lewis Hamilton topped the first time sheet in free practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix, the final round of the Formula 1 World Championship. Behind the Englishman, who did a 1.14.131 in his McLaren, came the two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel (1.14.140) and Mark Webber (1.14.198.) Fernando completed 28 laps on his way to fifth fastest in 1.14.392, while Felipe Massa did one lap more, finishing sixth in 1.14.716. Both Ferrari men ran the Hard compound, which is being used here alongside the Medium, while for today only Pirelli also made two sets of experimental tyres available to all drivers.