Interlagos Practice 2: Hamilton retains the upper hand

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012.

Lewis Hamilton was unbeatable on day one of the Brazilian GP weekend

Nov.23 (GP247) McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton continued to set the pace in Sao Paulo as he topped the timing sheets at the end of the second Free Practice session at Interlagos, on the first day of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012.United States GP winner Hamilton set his best time of  1 minute 14.026 seconds in the first half of the session, and used the latter half of the ninety minutes to run the McLaren on a heavier fuel load. Here too he appeared to have the upper hand as the Woking squad seemed to have the edge over their rivals on the day.

Hamilton ran the MP4-27 with the high downforce aero package, while teammate Jenson Button opted for the low downforce version. The difference in top speed was around 10 km/h in favour of Button, but the combo was simply no match for Hamilton’s setup which was so much better through the twisty bits.

As a result Button was eighth on the timing sheets, almost a second down on his teammate’s best although they appeared closer on heavier fuel runs. However with rain predicted for race day, the safe call would surely be to bolt on the high downforce setup…

As in the morning session a few hours earlier, closest to Hamilton’s benchmark pace were the Red Bull pair of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, again second and third respectively. The 0.009 seconds deficit they enjoyed in FP1 had grown to over a quarter second in FP2. The energy drinks boys have a chase on their hands.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012.Next up were the Ferrari duo, with Felipe Massa reveling on home soil in his return to form and going quicker than title contending teammate Fernando Alonso. They ended the session fourth and fifth, about half a second down on Hamilton, but perhaps more importantly, for them, less than a quarter second down on the Red Bulls.

Showing a welcome turn of speed were the Mercedes pair, with Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg ending the session sixth and seventh respectively.

Ninth quickest was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, with teammate Kimi Raikkonen 12th. The black and gold cars appeared to lack the hot lap speed of the pace setters, but on the heavier fuel load runs were on par with the Red Bulls and Ferraris.

Force India’s Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg were 10th and 11th respectively, with Hulkenberg returning to the venue where he scored his one and only pole position back in 2010 with Williams. Last year he watched from the sidelines as Force India’s reserve driver.

Both Williams drivers were out of the top ten. Bruno Senna was not happy to have to sit out FP1 at his home race weekend. Nevertheless in the afternoon session he was 13th fastest and quicker than Pastor Maldonado who was 17th. However the Venezuelan did 47 laps which was more than any of his rivals in the ninety minutes.

Also apparently struggling were the Saubers, with Sergio Perez 14th and Kamui Kobayshi 15th.

Subbed by AJN.

Brazilian Grand Prix Practice 2, Interlagos – Friday, 23 November 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:14.026 35
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:14.300 0.274 40
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:14.523 0.497 37
4 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:14.553 0.527 37
5 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:14.592 0.566 37
6 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:14.654 0.628 36
7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:14.669 0.643 40
8 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:14.863 0.837 40
9 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:14.994 0.968 37
10 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:15.129 1.103 39
11 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:15.131 1.105 40
12 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:15.371 1.345 39
13 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:15.432 1.406 45
14 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.542 1.516 35
15 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.839 1.813 43
16 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:15.902 1.876 39
17 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:15.953 1.927 47
18 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:16.048 2.022 40
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:16.126 2.100 39
20 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:16.655 2.629 42
21 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:17.244 3.218 15
22 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:17.675 3.649 42
23 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:18.127 4.101 31
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:18.139 4.113 15