2014 BRAZILAN GP: NICO ROSBERG FASTEST ON FRIDAY

Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the opening practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, lapping 0.221s quicker than championship-leading team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Third fastest was Daniil Kvyat, the Russian showing impressive pace in his Toro Rosso. He finished two hundredths of a second ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, though almost a full second down on the dominant Mercedes cars.

Felipe Massa took fifth place for Williams at his home circuit, while Max Verstappen was sixth quickest in the second Toro Rosso, with the Italian squad looking in good shape at the Sao Paulo track.

Lotus, too, looked to have carried over the good form that earned Pastor Maldonado his first points of the season at last weekend’s round in the United States.

The Venezuelan set the morning’s seventh fastest time ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and tenth-placed Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull. His Ricciardo’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel struggled somewhat, finishing the session in 14th place. His difficulties weren’t as acute as those afflicting Magnussen’s team-mate Jenson Button, however. The Briton hadn’t even made it out of the pit lane exit before his McLaren shut down completely.

He was wheeled back to the team’s garage for long repairs but while his crew managed to ready the car for a last-minute return to the fray they ultimately failed to get the Briton out on track. Elsewhere, Interlagos’ new surface was causing problems, with a number of drivers finding grip hard to come by on the extremely smooth track.

Daniel Juncadella, deputising for Sergio Perez at Marussia, was one of those caught out. He spun once at Turn 6 and then later lost control at Turn 8, hitting the barriers hard. The crash brought out the red flags as his car was recovered. Juncadella and Verstappen weren’t the only drivers in for regular racers during the session.

Williams test driver Felipe Nasr, who on Wednesday evening was confirmed as a race driver for Sauber in 2015, took over Valtteri Bottas’ car, giving Williams an all-Brazilian line-up during the session. Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez also had electrical problems with his power unit and he too failed to set a laptime. 

FIRST FREE PRACTICE
 P.     DRIVER            TEAM           TIME        GAP    LAPS 
 1. Nico Rosberg        Mercedes AMG   1:12.764              30
 2. Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes AMG   1:12.985   +  0.221   32
 3. Daniil Kvyat        Toro Rosso     1:13.723   +  0.959   39
 4. Fernando Alonso     Ferrari        1:13.742   +  0.978   30
 5. Felipe Massa        Williams       1:13.811   +  1.047   28
 6. Max Verstappen      Toro Rosso     1:13.827   +  1.063   26
 7. Pastor Maldonado    Lotus          1:14.034   +  1.270   31
 8. Kimi Räikkönen      Ferrari        1:14.114   +  1.350   32
 9. Kevin Magnussen     McLaren        1:14.136   +  1.372   30
10. Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull       1:14.197   +  1.433   27
11. Adrian Sutil        Sauber         1:14.434   +  1.670   31
12. Felipe Nasr         Williams       1:14.522   +  1.758   22
13. Nico Hulkenberg     Force India    1:14.678   +  1.914   33
14. Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull       1:14.902   +  2.138   24
15. Romain Grosjean     Lotus          1:15.109   +  2.345   23
16. Daniel Juncadella   Force India    1:16.030   +  3.266   17
17. Jenson Button       McLaren        no time set
18. Esteban Gutierrez   Sauber         no time set

Nico Rosberg continued at the top of the timesheets in Interlagos, beating team-mate Lewis Hamilton to top spot by the same two tenths of a second margin he had enjoyed in the morning session. Rosberg spent the early part of the session trailing Hamilton on the prime medium tyres but when the switch was made for option soft tyres, the German stretched his legs to take P1 with his first flying lap.

Hamilton tried to respond but on his opening flyer he ran wide Mergulho corner and ended up six-tenths adrift of his title rival. Unlike many other drivers Hamilton managed to improve on his second quick lap but he could get no closer to Rosberg than 0.2s.

Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest, half a second behind Rosberg, while Daniel Ricciardo, who had finished tenth in the morning session, improved to fourth fastest in the afternoon session, with the RB10 looking much more surefooted in the second practice period. Behind Ricciardo came the Williams cars of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.

While Raikkonen enjoyed a decent afternoon, despite a spin, team-mate Fernando Alonso had a more troubled outing, the Spaniard being forced to pull over at the side of the track with an engine fire. Ferrari later said that the power unit involved was a high mileage example and the incident was of no major concern, though Director odf Engineering Pat Fry said it had been a shame that Alonso was sidelined for the final 20 minutes of the session. Despite the setback Alonso still managed the afternoon’s seventh fastest time.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was ended up up eighth ahead of the second Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, who, like his team-mate appeared more comfortable at the wheel of his RB10 than in the morning. Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top 10, beating the lead Lotus of Pastor Maldonado by just two hundredths of a second. Elsewhere, Esteban Gutierrez, who suffered electrical problems in the morning, also encountered problems in second session, the Mexican stopping with 13 minutes remaining and bringing out the red flag.

Jean-Eric Vergne also hit trouble. The Frenchman missed the morning session due to Max Verstappen taking over his Toro Rosso and Vergne’s first taste of the new Interlagos surface lasted just five laps before he pulled over at the aside of the track with a power unit problem. Just 17 drivers ran during the session, with Sergio Perez unable to participate after Force India reserve Daniel Juncadella crashed his race car during the morning session.

SECOND FREE PRACTICE
 P.     DRIVER            TEAM           TIME         GAP   LAPS 
 1. Nico Rosberg        Mercedes AMG   1:12.123              36
 2. Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes AMG   1:12.336   +  0.213   36
 3. Kimi Räikkönen      Ferrari        1:12.696   +  0.573   32
 4. Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull       1:12.956   +  0.833   24
 5. Valtteri Bottas     Williams       1:13.035   +  0.912   31
 6. Felipe Massa        Williams       1:13.099   +  0.976   27
 7. Fernando Alonso     Ferrari        1:13.122   +  0.999   20
 8. Daniil Kvyat        Toro Rosso     1:13.254   +  1.131   35
 9. Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull       1:13.333   +  1.210   28
10. Kevin Magnussen     McLaren        1:13.479   +  1.356   33
11. Pastor Maldonado    Lotus          1:13.497   +  1.374   33
12. Romain Grosjean     Lotus          1:13.714   +  1.591   37
13. Nico Hulkenberg     Force India    1:13.882   +  1.759   32
14. Esteban Gutierrez   Sauber         1:13.902   +  1.779   25
15. Adrian Sutil        Sauber         1:14.204   +  2.081   36
16. Jenson Button       McLaren        1:14.209   +  2.086   19
17. Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso     1:17.171   +  5.048   31
18. Sergio Perez        Force India    no time set            5

Pirelli data:
FP1:   FP2:
1.Rosberg 1m12.764s Medium used   1.Rosberg 1m12.123s Soft new
2.Hamilton 1m12.985s Medium used   2.Hamilton 1m12.336s Soft new
3.Kvyat 1m13.723s Medium used   3.Raikkonen 1m12.696s Soft new
Tyre statistics of the day:
Medium Soft Intermediate Wet
kms driven * 3166 978 0
sets used overall ** 53 16 0
highest number of laps ** 27 22 0
* The above number gives the total amount of kilometres driven in FP1 and FP2 today, all drivers combined.
** Per compound, all drivers combined.