Brazilian GP: Hamilton beats Vettel during first practice session at Interlagos
By Berthold Bouman
Lewis Hamilton was fastest during the first free practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace this morning. The 2008 World Champion beat Sebastian Vettel, but only just, as the difference was nine thousandths of a second. Each team was handed two extra sets of the 2013 prototype Pirelli tyres today, Hamilton set his time on the new 2013 tyres, while Vettel set his fastest time on the regular 2012-spec tyres.
Mark Webber and Jenson Button were also fast and took third and fourth place, the difference between the pair was just 0.019s, and both were only a few hundredths of a second off Hamilton’s time. While the top four drivers were close together, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who will be fighting with Vettel for the 2012 crown this weekend, was in fifth place, however, he was 0.261s slower than pace-setter Hamilton.
Felipe Massa was sixth for Ferrari on his home circuit, the Brazilian was followed by Romain Grosjean who was the fastest Lotus driver this morning, as his team mate Kimi Raikkonen posted the 16th quickest time. The Finn spent the major part of the morning session in the garage with an engine problem, thus he had a valid excuse to be that far down the order.
Paul di Resta took eighth place for Force India, and Pastor Maldonado and second Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten. Most drivers tried the 2013 prototypes, according to Pirelli, these are similar to the 2012 hard tyre compound, but should warm up more quickly.
Michael Schumacher, who will retire from the sport after the Brazilian Grand Prix, was 11th for Mercedes, his team mate Nico Rosberg was further back in 18th place. Both Sauber drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez were fast this morning and took 12th and 13th spot respectively.
Friday morning driver Valtteri Bottas was a bit disappointing, as he is usually in the top ten, but today he had to be satisfied with 14th place, the Finn was followed by the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo, Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne was 17th in the other Toro Rosso.
Test driver Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was the fastest Caterham driver this morning, he was 19th, his Russian team mate who lost his 2013 seat at Caterham to Charles Pic, was 21st. Marussia driver Timo Glock was 20th, Pic was 22nd.
As usual the financially stricken HRT team were the slowest team on track, Pedro de la Rosa was 23rd and Narain Karthikeyan 24th.
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Brazilian GP: Free Practice 1 Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:14.131 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:14.140 + 0.009 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:14.198 + 0.067 4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:14.217 + 0.086 5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:14.392 + 0.261 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:14.716 + 0.585 7. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:14.719 + 0.588 8. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:14.738 + 0.607 9. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:15.015 + 0.884 10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:15.050 + 0.919 11. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:15.114 + 0.983 12. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.255 + 1.124 13. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.396 + 1.265 14. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:15.413 + 1.282 15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:15.587 + 1.456 16. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1:15.701 + 1.570 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:16.048 + 1.917 18. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:16.315 + 2.184 19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:16.460 + 2.329 20. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:16.506 + 2.375 21. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:16.617 + 2.486 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:17.234 + 3.103 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:17.678 + 3.547 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:17.895 + 3.764