Brazilian GP - The usual situation
The seventeenth and final race weekend of the season has, in terms of lap times at least, delivered the usual story of a duel between Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and McLaren-Mercedes. Today's practice also followed a more recent trend, initiated two races ago in Japan, in the shape of rain, which fell during the morning session and left the track still damp at the start of this afternoon's 90 minutes of free practice. Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa only did 9 and 10 laps respectively in the first session, enough to top the time sheets and then in the afternoon, it was series leader Lewis Hamilton who was quickest, with Fernando Alonso second. Then came last year's winner here, Felipe, whose every move in the paddock is followed by hordes of Brazilian media, guests and fans, eager to keep up with everything their local boy is doing. Kimi was fourth and both Ferrari men did 30 laps each.
In fifth position, is another previous Brazil GP winner in the shape of Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella, with the BMW-Sauber of Robert Kubica completing the top six. The new track surface appears to be providing more grip than in the past, which complicates matters in terms of tyre choice, and there has been a slight improvement in that the bumps, although still present on this fascinating track, are not as severe as last year.
One interesting situation arose in the morning session in that Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Takuma Sato all used two sets of wet weather tyres, which is against the rules. At the time of writing, there is no news of any penalty that might be imposed on these drivers or their teams.
If the weather forecast is to be believed, then we have seen the last of the wet weather for this weekend, but nothing is more uncertain than the weather in this city at this time of year.
"As usual on Friday, it is difficult to understand exactly where we stand compared to the others," said Kimi. "That was probably even more the case today given the track conditions. This morning in the wet, we just checked that the car was okay and then in the afternoon, especially the first part of the session, the track still had some damp patches. Then, when conditions improved, we came up against a bit of traffic. We are reasonably happy with the way today went, but there is still a lot of room for improvement on the car."
Luca Baldisserri also said, "This morning's rain limited our planned work schedule. In the first session all we did was check that both cars were running fine and then in the second one, as the track began to dry out, we were able to run a first comparison between the two types of tyre available and also try some setting changes on the cars. Especially in the early stages of the second session there was only one usable line as the rest of the track was still very damp, which complicated things a bit. Overall the situation is what we had expected: as we have often seen throughout the whole season is that we and our main rivals are very closely matched."