Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton showed the advantage during free practice one in Brazil. Not much happened during the opening practice session of the weekend. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen finished the session in second with the second Mercedes in the hands of Nico Rosberg finished in third.

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas started the session being the first car out on the circuit along with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Four driver ran the halo safety device, those drivers were; Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, Haas’ Romain Grosjean, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg. Lewis Hamilton started the session with aero sensors on the Mercedes and was not setting representative times as the team gathered valuable information from the car.

Manor Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein looked to struggle during the start of the session for about twenty minutes with brake issues. He discussed the issue with team members over the radio, suggesting the car was pulling to the left under braking. Haas’ Romain Grosjean suffered from power steering issues during the session. The Red Bull Racing drivers left it late to set representative times. Renault test driver Sergey Sirotkin lost power in the car at the final corner of the circuit, he was unaware of the issue that caused it as he told the team “something happened, something happened!”. The Russian then limped the Renault back into the pit lane for the team to look over the car to find the issue back in the garage.

McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button seemed to be continuing to struggle with the car as he spoke to the team over the radio about the balance. He finished the session down in eleventh. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was the first of the front running cars to fit a set of soft compound tyres on which saw the times go down dramatically. He set a lap time of 1:11.991, putting him 1.1 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg attempted to match the pace Verstappen had set but was only able to get within 0.134 seconds of the Red Bull machine.

Daniil Kvyat suffered some drama in the opening practice session as he got a puncture on the right rear of the car but the Russian made it back to the pit lane but with the loss of a set of tyres. With just thirteen minutes of the session remaining Felipe Nasr told the team he had suffered an issue with the clutch to which the team told him they would check the data.

Haas’ test driver Charles Leclerc was able to get more track time under his belt as he looked to push on during the practice session when he came across Valtteri Bottas in the Williams machine, a quick chat with the team to get permission to overtake and he was back on his way again. Unfortunately for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel he suffered a drama late in the session when he spun at turn eleven, luckily the only damage was a set of flat spotted tyres for the German.

As the chequered flag flew Romain Grosjean was back on the radio to the team, this time telling them he was lost with the car set up as he finished the session in fifteenth.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finished the session in first ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in second and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in third. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished in fourth ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas in fifth and Force India’s Sergio Perez in sixth. Seventh was Nico Hulkenberg for the Force India team ahead of  Williams’ Felipe Massa in eighth. Ferrari’s duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonnen finished in ninth and tenth with Toro Rosso’s duo of Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat finished in eleventh and twelfth. The two McLaren Honda’s in the hands of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso finished in thirteenth and fourteenth. Haas’ Romain Grosjean finished in fifteenth ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr in sixteenth followed by Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson in seventeenth. Esteban Ocon finished in eighteenth for the Manor Racing team ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer in nineteenth. Manor’s second driver Pascal Wehrlein finished in twentieth. Charles Leclerc brought the Haas car back in twenty-first with Renault’s Sergey Sirotkin in twenty-second.


©Fay Tilley 12th November 2016.