Drivers commented favourably that the resurfacing had eliminated many of Interlagos’s infamous bumps, but a damp track caused a few headaches in the morning especially as oil was still seeping from the new bitumen, while very high track temperatures - 53 degrees Celsius - in the afternoon also made things difficult. Some reported graining, especially on the soft Pirellis. Three red flags also added to the challenges faced. We take a team-by-team look at day one in Brazil…
Nico Rosberg, 1m 12.764s, P1/1m 12.123s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 12.985s, P2/1m 12.336s, P2
There were no real problems here, and those that were tyre-associated are likely to be repeated for the remainder of the weekend, so both drivers were chipper. Rosberg was happy; Hamilton said he didn’t quite get a good lap together, but that it didn’t really matter since it was practice.
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 14.114s, P8/1m 12.696s, P3
Fernando Alonso, 1m 13.742s, P4/1m 13.122s, P7
Raikkonen had a horrible time in the morning, with two big spins, but his car seemed transformed in the afternoon as he got the front end working the way he wanted. He got closest to the Mercedes. Towards the end of FP2 Alonso brought out the second red flag when his F14 T rolled to a halt between Turns 3 and 4 and caught fire. However, it was of minor concern as the engine was known to be close to the end of its mileage, and the flames were quickly extinguished.
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 14.197s, P10/1m 12.956s, P4
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 14.902s, P14/1m 13.333s, P9
Ricciardo was quite happy and believed the Red Bull has the potential to make the second row of the grid if it’s dry tomorrow, or possibly the first if it’s wet. Vettel put on a brave face, omitting to go into detail about shift problems he’d reported over the radio in FP2 which are currently being investigated.
Valtteri Bottas (pm only), 1m 13.035s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 13.811s, P5/1m 13.099s, P6
Felipe Nasr (am only), 1m 14.522s, P12
There were no real worries at Williams, where all three drivers felt that the FW36 had competitive dry-road pace. But now they are preparing the cars in expectation of rain for the rest of the weekend.
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 13.723s, P3/1m 13.254s, P8
Jean-Eric Vergne (pm only), 1m 17.171s, P17
Max Verstappen (am only), 1m 13.827s, P6
Kvyat was very quick in the morning but said his car became ‘undriveable’ towards the end of the afternoon session, most likely because of the effect of the high track temperature on the tyres. Verstappen did an excellent job in FP1 - his best yet - but when Vergne took his car back for FP2 he suffered a complete electrical black-out very early on, bringing out the first red flag.
Kevin Magnussen, 1m 14.136s, P9/1m 13.479s, P10
Jenson Button, no time, P17/1m 14.209s, P16
Magnussen was in the top 10 in both sessions, but Button lost all of the morning running when his MP4-29 lost all power as he crept into the pits early on. He then complained of vibrations in the afternoon, and that he had been sent out in traffic and was thus unable to get a good run on the soft Pirellis.
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 14.034s, P7/1m 13.497s, P11
Romain Grosjean, 1m 15.109s, P15/1m 13.714s, P12
Lotus had a much stronger day than usual, with Maldonado in particular looking racy as he got up with the Toro Rossos, the Ferraris and Magnussen’s McLaren in his E22 in FP1, and wasn’t far off them in FP2. Grosjean was less happy in FP1, but got closer to his team mate in FP2.
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 14.678s, P13/1m 13.882s, P13
Sergio Perez (pm only), no time, P18
Daniel Juncadella (am only), 1m 16.030s, P16
Hulkenberg got what he could out of his VJM07, which seems to have lost some of its pace from previous races of late, while Juncadella blotted his copybook with a shunt in the Turn 8 Laranjinha corner in FP1. That meant a long repair session, necessitating a lengthy front-end rebuild. A heat sink problem with the Mercedes powertrain didn’t help, either, and both factors stymied Perez’s afternoon session. The Mexican has been given a seven-place grid penalty here for what the stewards described as a ‘reckless’ move on Sutil in Austin.
Esteban Gutierrez, no time, P18/1m 13.902s, P14
Adrian Sutil, 1m 14.434s, P11/1m 14.204, P15
Gutierrez struggled with ERS problems all day, and brought out the third and final red flag when his C33 stopped out on the circuit with further trouble. Sutil struggled with understeer all day.