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Friday analysis - all eyes on the Sao Paulo skies 23 Nov 2012

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E20 makes a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31 rear.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Timo Glock (GER) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012

Friday’s morning session at Interlagos was complicated by the presence of Pirelli’s prototype 2013 tyres, on which pretty much everyone set their best times, and that obscured who was really quick on the 2012 hard and medium rubber. In the afternoon, however, most focused on the latter, as Hamilton opened a small advantage and the top nine cars were covered by a second. The track temperatures all day were well above the norm here, which was an additional complication, especially as rain is forecast for tomorrow afternoon and all day Sunday. We take a team-by-team look at the early running in Sao Paulo…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 14.131s, P1/1m 14.026s, P1
Jenson Button, 1m 14.217s, P4/1m 14.863s, P8

Hamilton was very happy with his day, with the caveat that long-run tyre performance still remains a little bit of a mystery, while Button deliberately ran a lower downforce configuration with a smaller rear wing as a comparison in FP2. Given the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend it’s unlikely that the team will pursue the comparison tomorrow.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 14.140s, P2/1m 14.300s, P2
Mark Webber, 1m 14.198s, P3/1m 14.523s, P3

Vettel and Webber both said they were surprised by the lack of grip in the hot conditions, but that they had positive and informative days.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 14.716s, P6/1m 14.553s, P4
Fernando Alonso, 1m 14.392s, P5/1m 14.592s, P5

Alonso tried different front wings in FP1 and ran a large rear wing in FP2, as Ferrari continues to experiment with the set-up to maximise their chances in qualifying. Both drivers amassed plenty of laps, without trouble, and Massa was the fastest overall on long runs in FP2, but the team are under no illusion about the mountain they have to climb if Alonso is to outscore Vettel by 14 points.

Mercedes
Michael Schumacher, 1m 15.114s, P11/1m 14.654s, P6
Nico Rosberg, 1m 16.315s, P18/1m 14.669s, P7

Both drivers said they had a decent day, but both are very well aware that they face a tough race.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 14.719s, P7/1m 14.994s, P9
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 15.701s, P16/1m 15.371s, P12

Raikkonen lost a lot of running time in FP1 when his engine kept running roughly, taxing the ingenuity of Renault’s engineers until an ignition coil problem was solved. Otherwise it was a normal Friday at Lotus and Grosjean said he was happy with their race pace.

Force India
Paul di Resta, 1m 14.738s, P8/1m 15.129s, P10
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 15.050s, P10/1m 15.131s, P11

Di Resta described his day as straightforward and positive, and said his VJM05 worked well in both high- and low-speed sections of the track. Hulkenberg said his car was sliding around too much.

Williams
Bruno Senna (pm only), 1m 15.432s, P13
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 15.015s, P9/1m 15.953s, P17
Valtteri Bottas (am only), 1m 15.413s, P14

Williams did a lot of set-up and evaluation work with their three drivers, and though Maldonado in particular thought that they lost something in FP2 compared with FP1, he believed they can be competitive tomorrow.

Sauber
Sergio Perez, 1m 15.396s, P13/1m 15.542s, P14
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 15.255s, P12/1m 15.839s, P15

Sauber did a lot of aero work but the C31 isn’t at its best in such high temperatures and both drivers experienced overheating rear tyres and said that performance-wise they weren’t anywhere close to where they wanted to be.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 15.587s, P15/1m 15.902s, P16
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 16.048s, P17/1m 16.048s, P18

Both drivers admitted that their STR7s struggled more than most in the very high ambient and track temperatures.

Caterham
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 16.617s, P21/1m 16.126s, P19
Heikki Kovalainen (pm only), 1m 16.655s, P20
Giedo van der Garde (am only), 16.460s, P19

Things were more upbeat here this weekend, as some back-to-back aero comparisons enabled the team to move forwards again. Van der Garde particularly impressed with his FP1 performance.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 17.678s, P23/1m 17.244s, P21
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 17.895s, P24/1m 18.139s, P24

Neither driver did much running, as the troubled team were worried about lifing of components and wanted to save mileage for the race. But when he did run, De la Rosa boosted morale with 21st fastest time in FP2.

Marussia
Timo Glock, 1m 16.506s, P20/1m 17.675s, P22
Charles Pic, 1m 17.234s, P22/1m 18.127s, P23

Marussia had a trying day, with Glock spinning in the morning due to excessive oversteer, and Pic rolling to a halt in the afternoon with an alternator problem.

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