Commentary: Lewis Hamilton edges Nico Rosberg in Brazilian Grand Prix FP2
Lewis Hamilton topped the second practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes teammate and Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosber...
Lewis Hamilton topped the second practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes teammate and Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg.
On a hot and sunny day in Sao Paulo – where rain may affect the rest of the weekend – many drivers struggled for grip at the Interlagos circuit early on, with several of them locking up under braking for Turn 1 and Marcus Ericsson half-spun his Sauber at Turn 8.
Another notable incident during the early running was Kimi Raikkonen cutting in front of Carlos Sainz to dive into the pits a few moments after the Toro Rosso had passed the Ferrari around the outside of Turn 10. The stewards are investigating the incident after the session.
Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed short stints at the head of the times during the early laps on Pirelli’s medium compound tyre, before they were deposed first by Rosberg and then by Hamilton, who also topped the day’s earlier FP1 session.
When the field switched to their qualifying simulation runs on the soft compound tyres, Ricciardo improved by almost 0.9s to move back to the head of the times before he was pushed down the order by Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
Rosberg, who can seal the drivers’ title by winning the race in Brazil, briefly took the top spot after his own flying lap before Hamilton went 0.030s faster a few seconds later. Hamilton is seeking a first ever victory at Interlagos and ended the session with a best time of 1m 12.271s.
Bottas and Massa finished third and fourth, ahead of Ricciardo and the second Red Bull driver, Max Verstappen. The 19-year-old, who was second to Hamilton in FP1, locked up at Turn 1 on his first soft tyre effort before catching a big moment in the long left-hand Turn 3 and he then aborted a second qualifying simulation a lap later.
Vettel and Raikkonen ended the session in seventh and eighth for Ferrari, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg in ninth place. Jenson Button rounded out the top ten for McLaren at the venue where the 2009 world champion secured his title, but an overheating exhaust ended his session early as the team investigated what was causing it during his long runs.
Fernando Alonso was 11th fastest, but the double world champion’s running was also cut short when an ERS problem force him to stop his McLaren at the exit of Turn 4 with over one third of the 90-minute session remaining.
The Spaniard watched the rest of FP2 from the edge of the track, but he did not take to sunbathing like he did when his car suffered a mechanical failure in FP2 for the 2015 Brazilian race, although he did later entertain himself by kicking stones around and then sitting in an FOM camera operator’s chair and playing with the remote camera as he waited for the session to end.
Daniil Kvyat finished 12th for Toro Rosso, one place ahead of his teammate Sainz, with Sergio Perez 14th in the second Force India. Romain Grosjean was 15th for Haas F1, in front of Renault’s Kevin Magnussen and Sauber’s Felipe Nasr.
Esteban Ocon, who will move to Force India in 2017, ended up 18th fastest in the lead Manor, with Jolyon Palmer 19th in the second Renault.
Esteban Gutierrez finished the session in 20th, and the Mexican driver confirmed earlier in the day that he would not be driving for Haas in 2017, with Magnussen expected to move to the American squad in his place.
Ericsson ended up in 21st place, and Pascal Werhlein brought up the rear of the field in the second Manor.
If the race is dry, it looks like a soft-medium-medium two-stop strategy will be the preferred option. Some drivers did three stops last year but this is less likely in 2016 due to the progress the teams have made on tyre management since then.
Mercedes looked extremely strong on its long run pace and Hamilton had very low degradation. But Rosberg produced a strange long run and its possible he might have been hiding his true degradation levels and pace.
The Scuderia’s long run pace is better than its one lap pace, but the gaps in qualifying are always very tight at Interlagos due to its short nature.
At Red Bull, which appears to be losing ground on pulling up the hill to Turn 1, Verstappen showed better pace on his long run on the medium tyres than Ricciardo.
Williams wasn’t as strong on the long runs as it was during the short efforts. Bottas’ long run pace looked to be quite poor and both Red Bulls were ahead of the Williams pair during the race simulations with much lower degradation for the Milton Keynes-based team.
The thermal degradation the on soft tyre is quite high, but there was a 50-degree track temperature in FP2 and it will be cooler and maybe even wet tomorrow and on Sunday.
Brazilian Grand Prix FP2 results:
1 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1m12.271s, 41 laps
2 Nico Rosberg, Mercedes 1m12.301s +0.030s, 40 laps
3 Valtteri Bottas, Williams 1m12.761s +0.490s, 47 laps
4 Felipe Massa, Williams 1m12.789s +0.518s, 43 laps
5 Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull 1m12.828s +0.557s, 43 laps
6 Max Verstappen, Red Bull 1m12.928s +0.657s, 45 laps
7 Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari 1m13.002s +0.731s, 45 laps
8 Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 1m13.047s +0.776s, 24 laps
9 Nico Hulkenberg, Force India 1m13.299s +1.028s, 42 laps
10 Jenson Button, McLaren 1m13.440s +1.169s, 19 laps
11 Fernando Alonso, McLaren 1m13.572s +1.301s, 18 laps
12 Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso 1m13.689s +1.418s, 46 laps
13 Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso 1m13.801s +1.530s, 47 laps
14 Sergio Perez, Force India 1m13.918s +1.647s, 38 laps
15 Romain Grosjean, Haas 1m14.074s +1.803s, 35 laps
16 Kevin Magnussen, Renault 1m14.109s +1.838s, 47 laps
17 Felipe Nasr, Sauber 1m14.309s +2.038s, 40 laps
18 Esteban Ocon, Manor 1m14.317s +2.046s, 46 laps
19 Jolyon Palmer, Renault 1m14.436s +2.165s, 43 laps
20 Esteban Gutierrez, Haas 1m14.558s +2.287s, 42 laps
21 Marcus Ericsson, Sauber 1m14.695s +2.424s, 21 laps
22 Pascal Wehrlein, Manor 1m14.958s +2.687s, 22 lapsWhat did you make of practice for the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
Brazilian GP: Top 10 quotes after Friday free practice
Haas confirms Magnussen alongside Grosjean for 2017
About this article