Brazilian GP: Rosberg pips Hamilton in final practice

Nico Rosberg topped the final practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, but teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton was within a tenth of a second of him.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel led the chase, 0.2s down, ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen, and the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. 

Story of the session

Wind and rain arrived just before the hour-long session started. “Not really wet, no standing water, just damp,” reported Vettel on his installation lap on full wets.

“It’s very dry out here, we should be on slicks,” said Hamilton six minutes into the session as the shower cleared. He rejoined the circuit on the soft-compound slicks 10 minutes in, and promptly locked up and took the run-off at Descida do Lago.

Hamilton lapped in 1m16.980s before returning to the pits. Valtteri Bottas was next to run on slicks for Williams, improving the fastest time to 1m15.048s.

An umbrella then blew on to the track at Turn 1, causing a yellow flag. After that was removed, Massa set a new P1 time of 1m13.848s – much to the crowd’s delight in his final Brazilian Grand Prix. Bottas then improved to 1m13.942s in P2.

That pace prompted a flurry of cars to take to the track as the track dried out, and Raikkonen took over at the top on 1m12.860s using softs, with Ricciardo taking P2 on 1m13.762s on medium-compound slicks.

Raikkonen improved to 1m12.530s on his second lap, as Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg briefly took P2 from Ricciardo on 1m13.615s. Vettel then grabbed second place with 1m13.198s, and improved to 1m12.661s as the track rubbered in – a tenth away from his teammate.

Verstappen leapt to third at the halfway point, a tenth up on his teammate Ricciardo.

The Red Bulls switched to the softs with 20 minutes remaining, and Ricciardo jumped to the top of the times on 1m12.287s, almost a quarter of a second clear of Raikkonen despite a brief lockup at Laranjinha.

Verstappen took the top spot with 1m12.077s, but hopes that Red Bull and Ferrari might lead the way were dashed by Rosberg’s 1m11.787s, 0.29s clear of Verstappen, who then improved to 1m11.740s.

Hamilton’s opener was 1m11.833s, 0.093s off Rosberg’s best. Raikkonen jumped back to third on 1m12.027s – despite a lot of traffic towards then end of his lap.

Vettel then took P3 from Raikkonen, breaking the 1m12s barrier with 1m11.959s, 0.219s off Rosberg’s fastest time despite hitting some traffic.

Verstappen retained fifth from Ricciardo, with Bottas seventh, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer an excellent eighth, ahead of Massa and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Issues for some

McLaren’s troubled weekend continued: Alonso was again a bystander at the start of the session, with his mechanics working furiously on a gearbox problem as he watched from hospitality. He joined in just before the halfway point.

Jenson Button suffered a problem with eight minutes remaining, and was told “stop normally, stop normally – there’s a hole in the data” as he cruised back to the pits.

Romain Grosjean had a big spin at Descida do Lago towards the end of the session. “Something weird with the car, I lost the car with no real reason,” he said.

Palmer suffered a big lockup with his Renault into the first corner, which caused him issues later in the session as he couldn’t see his dashboard due to the vibration.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson required an engine change ahead of qualifying.

1  Nico Rosberg  Mercedes Mercedes 19 1'11.740    
2  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 21 1'11.833 0.093 0.093
3  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 14 1'11.959 0.219 0.126
4  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 16 1'12.027 0.287 0.068
5  Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 19 1'12.077 0.337 0.050
6  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 21 1'12.287 0.547 0.210
7  Valtteri Bottas  Williams Mercedes 27 1'12.614 0.874 0.327
8  Jolyon Palmer  Renault Renault 19 1'12.968 1.228 0.354
9  Felipe Massa  Williams Mercedes 26 1'12.990 1.250 0.022
10  Fernando Alonso  McLaren Honda 12 1'13.002 1.262 0.012
11  Nico Hulkenberg  Force India Mercedes 14 1'13.203 1.463 0.201
12  Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 19 1'13.231 1.491 0.028
13  Kevin Magnussen  Renault Renault 15 1'13.255 1.515 0.024
14  Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso Ferrari 20 1'13.293 1.553 0.038
15  Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 15 1'13.344 1.604 0.051
16  Esteban Gutierrez  Haas Ferrari 16 1'13.596 1.856 0.252
17  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso Ferrari 13 1'13.609 1.869 0.013
18  Jenson Button  McLaren Honda 9 1'13.750 2.010 0.141
19  Pascal Wehrlein  Manor Mercedes 20 1'13.972 2.232 0.222
20  Felipe Nasr  Sauber Ferrari 14 1'13.992 2.252 0.020
21  Esteban Ocon  Manor Mercedes 21 1'14.222 2.482 0.230
22  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 1    

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Brazilian GP
Sub-event Saturday practice
Track Interlagos
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Felipe Massa , Sebastian Vettel , Nico Hulkenberg , Sergio Perez , Romain Grosjean , Daniel Ricciardo , Kevin Magnussen , Daniil Kvyat , Max Verstappen
Article type Practice report