Practice 1: Vettel top as Red Bulls set pace

Sebastien Vettel was fastest in first free practice at Interlagos

Sebastien Vettel was fastest in first free practice at Interlagos

Nov.5 (Reuters) Sebastian Vettel was nearly half a second faster than Red Bull team mate Mark Webber on Friday in the opening free practice session for what could be a title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix.

Lewis hamilton was best of the rest in the first session in Brazil

Lewis Hamilton was best of the rest in the first session in Brazil

Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso, who leads Webber in the championship by 11 points and could clinch his third title if results go his way on Sunday, coasted to a halt in the closing minutes with a rough sounding engine.

However Ferrari, who have been managing the Spaniard’s engines carefully for months after early-season problems, were unconcerned.

“The situation is going on according to plans,” Ferrari had said earlier on their Twitter feed. “In order to manage the mileage in the best way we will change his engine unit between the two sessions so don’t get worried if you will see the mechanics working on car number eight between the sessions.”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday 5 November 2010.

Fernando Alonso had a low key first practice

Alonso was 13th fastest with team mate Felipe Massa 14th, subdued as has been their custom at several races this season.

Red Bull, with Vettel desperate to win after engine failure while leading in South Korea left the young German 25 points behind Alonso with two races remaining, set the pace as expected on a hot morning at Interlagos.

The growing rift and increasingly bitter rivalry between their two drivers was highlighted on Thursday when Webber accused the team of being emotionally behind Vettel and described his own title challenge as ‘inconvenient’.

Vitaly Petrov's session ended in the barriers

Vitaly Petrov's session ended in the barriers

Vettel’s subsequent remark, to German television, that “If Mark needs help then he should take the medical car” hardly improved relations.

With the fuse well and truly lit, the 23-year-old lapped the anti-clockwise circuit in one minute 12.328 seconds.

Australian Webber, winner at Interlagos last season, was 0.482 slower.

McLaren‘s Lewis Hamilton, third in the championship challenge and 21 points behind Alonso, was third fastest 0.517 off Vettel’s pace with team mate and world champion Jenson Button fourth.

Button is the fifth driver still in mathematical contention, but 42 points off the pace on his return to the track where he won the title with Brawn last year.

Renault’s Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov spun into the tyre barriers with eight minutes of the session remaining while Sauber’s Japanese Kamui Kobayashi also went off at Ferradura with a puncture.

5 November 2010 – Free Practice 1 Times

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:12.328 23
2 6 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:12.810 0.482 28
3 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:12.845 0.517 24
4 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:13.267 0.939 24
5 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1:13.370 1.042 24
6 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:13.516 1.188 26
7 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:13.546 1.218 26
8 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:13.643 1.315 25
9 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:13.918 1.590 26
10 22 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:14.000 1.672 23
11 23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:14.004 1.676 23
12 10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:14.155 1.827 29
13 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:14.246 1.918 20
14 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:14.267 1.939 26
15 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:14.370 2.042 23
16 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:14.487 2.159 26
17 17 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:14.618 2.290 30
18 16 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:14.734 2.406 29
19 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:15.603 3.275 25
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:15.860 3.532 20
21 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:16.057 3.729 26
22 25 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:16.707 4.379 28
23 20 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1:16.839 4.511 18
24 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:17.360 5.032 30