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.

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

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’11.8951’12.27173
2Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’11.9911’12.92874
3Nico RosbergMercedes1’12.1251’12.30166
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’12.3711’12.82870
5Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’13.1291’12.76183
6Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’13.3181’12.78976
7Sebastian VettelFerrari1’13.5671’13.00269
8Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’13.5691’13.04750
9Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’13.2891’13.91869
10Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’13.2931’13.29975
11Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’14.2521’13.44046
12Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’14.2961’13.57244
13Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Ferrari1’14.0901’13.68961
14Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’13.7111’13.80169
15Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’14.5071’14.07460
16Kevin MagnussenRenault1’14.10947
17Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’14.6311’14.30961
18Esteban OconManor-Mercedes1’14.8271’14.31776
19Jolyon PalmerRenault1’14.9081’14.43675
20Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’14.55842
21Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’14.6541’14.69544
22Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’14.9481’14.95854
23Charles LeclercHaas-Ferrari1’15.39127
24Sergey SirotkinRenault1’15.80010

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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