Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets in Practice today for the Brazilian Grand Prix, with the three time world champion leading the pace in the morning session whilst his teammate led the afternoon session.
Hamilton was half a second ahead of Rosberg on a 1:13.543, after leading the session at the 30 minute mark from his teammate in the early stages. Attention was not on the timesheet however, but more at the teams new nosecone which featured what looked like an ‘S’ Duct array seen on other cars such as the RB11.
Since the nose was found out not to be crash tested though, it meant that an ‘S’ Duct was not the main feature of the bulge, but rather a test for their 2016 car which features a higher nose section compared to this years. The team only ran it for Practice 1 however, before taking it off both cars in the afternoon session.
Elsewhere Vettel was third after briefly going quickest when he switched to a new set of Mediums in the closing stages, whilst Ricciardo and Raikkonen rounded out the top five at the chequered flag. The Fin who has been in the spotlight after his antics in Sochi and Mexico involving Valterri Bottas, managed to spin on one of his final laps and ruin a set of Mediums, after locking his rear tyres on entry to the sweeping turn 4.
In the second Practice session it was Rosberg who was quickest from Hamilton by four tenths of a second, as the lap times tumbled when the drivers switched to the Soft tyres. It wasn’t a smooth session for Rosberg though, who encountered problems in the final half hour of the session with his gearbox.
Over the team radio he reported “problem with upshift from 2nd to 3rd” before doing a drive-thru of the pits so he could do a Practice start. The team told him the data didn’t show anything abnormal though, and sent him on his way.
Spots of rain appeared intermittently throughout the session, although didn’t seem to affect the running overall.
Felipe Massa looked to still be struggling with balance, after complaining about understeer earlier in the day. Every corner looked like an adventure, with the Williams driver clouting the kerbs through the Senna Esses on more than one occasion. Turn 3 was actually where a couple of drivers spun when they ran out of grip, namely Max Verstappen and Alexander Rossi.
Verstappen also spun down at turn 7 after reporting he was loosing his rear tyres over the team radio, whilst Button was also reporting that his Soft tyres were going off in terms of lap time, after just four laps of usage. Teammate Fernando Alonso meanwhile wasn’t having much luck in his MP4-30. He was the cause of the one and only Red Flag when he stopped out on track with an hour to go, with smoke coming out of the back of his car.
The two Sauber’s did their race runs in the last hour, with Nasr doing 34 laps on his set of Mediums and Ericsson 31 laps on the same tyre. Rosberg meanwhile found that 18 laps was enough on the Soft tyre, eventually destroying the set which made its way down to the canvas when he went off track at turn 17.