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.
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.
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.
|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|
|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|
|14||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||Ferrari||20||1'13.293||1.553||0.038|
|17||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Ferrari||13||1'13.609||1.869||0.013|