A dry and warm Interlagos circuit meant that the drivers were able to run all three slick compounds in free practice – but it’s not yet clear what the conditions will be for the remainder of the weekend.
Wet weather is forecast for tomorrow and possibly for race day as well, meaning that conditions today may not turn out to be representative.
A Mercedes topped each of the free practice sessions, but the frontrunners were closely matched on an evolving track, with Williams driver Felipe Massa also having a spell at the head of the FP2 classification during his final home grand prix.
Track temperatures peaked at 50 degrees centigrade by the finish of FP2, as the teams ended the session concentrating on longer runs on each compound with varying fuel loads. So far, around 1.3 seconds separate the medium and soft compounds, with the gap between hard and medium being much smaller.
Drivers cleaned up a dirty and ‘green’ track during the first session this morning, before more rubber was laid down and they concentrated on longer runs in the afternoon, also using the harder compounds. The fastest time of the day was set by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in FP1 on the soft tyre, when the teams targeted shorter rather than longer runs in cooler conditions, around half a second off last year’s pole position benchmark.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “A busy day at Interlagos today, but we’ll see how useful it turns out to be over the rest of the weekend. The teams got a good initial read on the wear and degradation rates here, which seem reasonably high on the soft tyre in particular, with the right-rear tyre doing the most work over a lap of Interlagos. Whether it’s wet or dry we’re likely to see a multi-stop race, but the weather will be the key determining factor of both qualifying and the grand prix itself.”