Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2016

Mercedes should have company at the front when the weather changes

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Mercedes led the way as usual in Friday practice. But an overnight change in weather conditions promises to be good news for their two closest rivals.

Air temperatures tomorrow will around 10C lower than today. Overcast conditions should also keep track temperatures well below the peak of 51C seen in today’s afternoon session.

Those lower temperatures should help those teams who had been quicker in the morning session. It will probably be bad news for Williams, who achieved rare levels of pace in the peak of the heat on Friday afternoon.

While Ferrari’s lap times were also quicker in the afternoon, note that they only used the soft tyres in the second session. As Mexico showed, the team tend to be weaker in hot conditions.

Felipe Massa, Williams, Interlagos, 2016
Brazilian Grand Prix practice in pictures
It’s striking also that Red Bull seemed a greater threat to Mercedes in the morning session. “We’re a bit closer to them than we probably expected, about half a second,” agreed Daniel Ricciardo.

The other change Red Bull are pinning their hopes on is wet conditions. “The rain will help us,” Ricciardo added, a sentiment his team mate echoed. At present the forecast is for rain showers throughout the next two days, with Sunday likely to be the wettest.

There were no surprises from the teams’ longest stints in the afternoon session. Mercedes did their longest runs on the soft tyres which appeared to hold up well for them, but less so for Red Bull.

Ferrari’s day was patchy. Kimi Raikkonen’s long run was spoiled when a discarded visor tear-off strip found its way into his brake duct, overheating the caliper.

Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, found his car’s handling lively over a single lap and spun in the first session. However he reported the balance calmed down on a longer run

In the cool of the first session lap times quickly got within six-tenths of last year’s pole position time, and two seconds off the 2004 track record. The track remains unchanged since last year, save for a slight easing of the kerbs which were installed last season and turns two, three, four, eight and ten.

Longest stint comparison – second practice

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset:

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’11.895 1’12.271 73
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’11.991 1’12.928 74
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’12.125 1’12.301 66
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’12.371 1’12.828 70
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’13.129 1’12.761 83
6 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’13.318 1’12.789 76
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’13.567 1’13.002 69
8 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’13.569 1’13.047 50
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’13.289 1’13.918 69
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’13.293 1’13.299 75
11 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’14.252 1’13.440 46
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’14.296 1’13.572 44
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’14.090 1’13.689 61
14 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’13.711 1’13.801 69
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’14.507 1’14.074 60
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1’14.109 47
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1’14.631 1’14.309 61
18 Esteban Ocon Manor-Mercedes 1’14.827 1’14.317 76
19 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1’14.908 1’14.436 75
20 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 1’14.558 42
21 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’14.654 1’14.695 44
22 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 1’14.948 1’14.958 54
23 Charles Leclerc Haas-Ferrari 1’15.391 27
24 Sergey Sirotkin Renault 1’15.800 10

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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One comment on “Mercedes should have company at the front when the weather changes”

  1. Love to see Massa finish on the podium, very unlucky not to of been a WC

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