Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent
Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man on the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace this afternoon during the second free practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix. Hamilton took first spot with a time of 1m13.392s, which he already had recorded half an hour before the end of the session. He was followed by current World Champion Sebastian Vettel who was 0.167s behind Hamilton, while the second Red Bull piloted by Mark Webber took third place, again a close call as the Australian was beaten by Vettel with just 0.028s.
After the pit lane lights turned to green the Interlagos track was soon buzzing with activity, again many drivers were keen to venture onto the circuit early. Again a sunny and hot day in Brazil and soon Jenson Button was the first to lap the circuit and set a top time of 1m15.190s, but his team mate Hamilton was the first to dive under 1 minute 14 mark and not much topped the timesheets with a lap of 1m13.852s.
With almost all cars on track it was difficult to get a free lap, Red Bull’s Webber and Vettel nevertheless found some space but only Webber could improve the fastest time of the moment. Despite his earlier engine problems Fernando Alonso was able to grab sixth place some 30 minutes into the session. After setting times on the hard tyres, it was then time to go out on the soft yellow marked Pirellis, Jaime Alguersuari and Bruno Senna were the first to try the softs and indeed were able to improve their previous times, the signal for others to also return to the pits for the soft tyres.
Nico Rosberg improved his time to take second place, but his team mate Michael Schumacher was also out for a run of the softs and finally grabbed first place from Hamilton with a time of 1m13.732s. Both McLaren drivers then were next on the softer tyres, Button first improved Schumacher’s time but was soon passed by Hamilton who set a new benchmark with a lap of 1m13.392s, which eventually proved to be the fastest time of the day.
Seven time World Champion Schumacher had a good pace this afternoon and he landed fifth place while his team mate Rosberg took eighth place. Both Ferrari drivers also made a run on the softs, but Alonso was the fastest and despite he was struggling at some parts of the Interlagos circuit he took fourth place at the time. With 30 minutes still remaining, the order was: Hamilton, Vettel, Webber, Alonso and Schumacher.
Alonso could not improve his time anymore, and he ended up on fourth place, followed by Schumacher in fifth, while Felipe Massa took sixth place after completing a total of 39 laps. A little bit disappointing was Button, who could not find the right speed and the 2009 Champion did not get further than seventh place with a time of 1m13.787s, which was almost four tenths of a second slower than his McLaren colleague Hamilton.
Adrian Sutil was back in the Force India this afternoon and without problems finished ninth, ahead of the second Force India, as Paul di Resta followed him in 10th place. Lotus Renault followed Force India and Vitaly Petrov who was back in the car after lending it to Romain Grosjean this morning. Both Lotus Renault drivers had a few moments on the difficult Interlagos track, but Petrov finished the afternoon in 11th, while Brazilian Bruno Senna took the second Lotus Renault to 12th place.
But on a still busy track it was difficult to improve lap times, and drivers were also testing their speed in race trim, and when Sergio Perez pulled over to the side and parked his Sauber, the yellow flags came out with just 10 minutes on the clock remaining. Perez had just grabbed 13th place before he stranded, and Kamui Kobayashi was right behind him in 14th place.
It was also close between the two Toro Rosso drivers, Sebastian Buemi was only one tenth of a second faster than Jaime Alguersuari and the pair finished in 15th and 16th place respectively.
Also close together were the two Williams drivers, Pastor Maldonado was the fastest and took possession of 17th spot, while Brazilian Rubens Barrichello took 18th spot. The next pair were Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen who crossed the finish line in 19th and 20th place in the green-yellow Team Lotus cars.
Also both Marussia Virgin drivers were extremely closely matched; Jerome d’Ambrosio took 21st place, while German Timo Glock finished in 22nd place, just 0,020s behind the Belgian driver. As usual both HRT drivers finished in 23rd and 24th position, this time Australian Daniel Ricciardo beat his Italian colleague Vitantonio who finished at the bottom of the time sheets.
There is another practice session tomorrow morning to prepare the drivers for the all-important qualifying session for the final round of this year’s Formula One season, rain has been forecasted for Saturday, which would certainly make qualifying very interesting for drivers, and of course for the spectators as well.