2016 Brazilian Grand Prix Practice Review

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Lewis Hamilton wins the Mexican Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg  in second place and Daniel Ricciardo in third place. Williams, McLaren, Ferrari and Force India all managed to score some much needed points at the event also.

The Interlagos Circuit, officially named Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, is regarded as one of the most challenging and exciting circuits on the Formula One calendar. The circuit is located in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. Unusually the Interlagos racing circuit runs anti-clockwise and is at high-altitude, so races are particularly hard on the drivers. The heat and humidity of Brazil also add to the driver’s discomfort.

The combination of the tight infield and the long straight make the track layout very unique. The track has a bit of everything – low speed, high speed and there are several overtaking opportunities. Interlagos has some great corners such as the Curva do Laranjinha with lots of g-force and there are real overtaking opportunities into the Senna S at the start of the lap and under braking for turn four, Descida do Lago, at the end of the back straight.

The present design of the track dates back from 1990, when the original circuit due to safety reasons was shortened from 7.83 kilometers to only 4.31 kilometers. The first Brazilian Grand Prix on the reconfigured circuit was won by Frenchman Alain Prost, with Austria’s Gerhard Berger in second place and Brazil’s Ayrton Senna in third.

Compared to some circuits, Interlagos has a relatively small capacity of about 70,000 people. The fact that the track was built within a natural amphitheatre has resulted in spectators being offered an excellent view of more than half of the circuit, regardless of where they sit. Weather conditions can change rather dramatically at this time of year, so be advised to bring both raincoat and sun cream to Interlagos.

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is that Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1 and FP2.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.11.895 followed closely by Max Verstappen with a gap of 0.096 seconds behind, Nico Rosberg was in third with a gap of 0.158 seconds behind, Daniel Ricciardo in fourth with a gap of 0.476 seconds behind and Valtteri Bottas in fifth with a gap of 1.234 seconds behind Hamilton.

Sergio Perez was in sixth with a gap of 1.394 seconds behind, Nico Hulkenberg was in seventh with a gap of 1.398 seconds behind, Felipe Massa was eighth with a gap of 1.423 seconds behind, Sebastian Vettel was ninth with a gap of 1.672 behind and Kimi Raikkonen was tenth with a gap of 1.674 seconds behind Hamilton.

During FP1, Sergey Sirotkin managed just 10 laps for Renault before encountering a technical issue after 28 minutes. Sirotkin was forced to park his car at the entry of the pitlane from where he was collected by a team of mechanics, but Renault was unable to get him back out on track.

With three minutes remaining Sebastian Vettel finished the session in ignominious fashion by spinning off at Mergulho on a set of fresh medium tyres. This was then followed by Toro Rosso drivers of Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat, with Kvyat suffering a right-rear puncture after an hour that brought an end to his session.

After FP1, it was announced that Kevin Magnussen has signed for the Haas F1 team for the 2017 season. To read more about this, please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/magnussen-joins-haas-for-the-2017-season/.

Practice 2 saw Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.12.271 followed closely by Rosberg with a gap of 0.030 seconds behind, Bottas was in third with a gap of 0.490 seconds behind, Massa in fourth with a gap of 0.490 seconds behind and Ricciardo in fifth with a gap of 0.557 seconds behind Hamilton.

Verstappen was in sixth with a gap of 0.657 seconds behind, Vettel was in seventh with a gap of 0.731 seconds behind, Raikkonen was eighth with a gap of 0.776 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was ninth with a gap of 1.028 behind and Button was tenth with a gap of 1.169 seconds behind Hamilton.

During the early part of FP2, Carlos Sainz Jr went wheel-to-wheel with Raikkonen through the infield early in the session, with the latter then cutting across the Toro Rosso on the main straight as he dived for the pits. The stewards will investigate the incident after the session.

But Romain Grosjean had a frustrating afternoon, complaining of having no power and then reporting that “something is wrong, very strange” as he went through Turn 1.

And finally during FP2, Fernando Alonso had his session ending prematurely when he was told to stop on track because the team had found a data anomaly in the ERS water pressure. Alonso was restricted to just 18 laps.

But rather than heading back to the garage, Alonso took control of one of the trackside cameras, with some of the footage being used in the FOM broadcast. This came exactly a year after he sat in a deckchair after his McLaren ground to a halt in Q1, with the pictures creating a social media sensation.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP3.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP3.

Practice 3 saw Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.11.740 followed closely by Hamilton with a gap of 0.096 seconds behind, Vettel was in third with a gap of 0.219 seconds behind, Raikkonen  in fourth with a gap of 0.287 seconds behind and Verstappen in fifth with a gap of 0.337 seconds behind Rosberg.

Ricciardo was in sixth with a gap of 0.547 seconds behind, Bottas was in seventh with a gap of 0.874 seconds behind, Palmer was eighth with a gap of 1.228 seconds behind, Massa was ninth with a gap of 1.250  behind and Alonso was tenth with a gap of 1.262 seconds behind Rosberg.

During the early part of FP3, Lewis Hamilton went off the circuit at Turn 5 but managed to regain himself back on the track. In the latter part of FP3, Romain Grosjean had a spin at Turn 5, he managed to get himself back on the track and able to run in the session once more.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race. Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, or Verstappen also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Williams, Force India or even McLaren have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

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