FP1 & FP2 - Brazilian GP report: Mercedes
MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS set the pace on the opening day at Interlagos, with Nico Rosberg narrowly leading team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the opening practice sessions for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
— Nico finished both the morning and afternoon sessions just two tenths clear of Lewis at the top of the time sheets
— Both drivers ran the medium compound Pirelli tyres only in the morning session, the medium and soft in the afternoon
— Multiple red flag stoppages during the afternoon session lead to reduced running time
— Both cars ran trouble-free throughout each session
That was a good day and we are very quick again at this circuit. The track has a new surface which made it quite tricky. It’s smooth and not quite so bumpy as it has been in the past – but the tyres were blistering because of the high temperatures and the new asphalt. That was a bit worrying, but we are expecting it to be a bit cooler over the weekend. I’m looking forward to tomorrow – it should be a great battle.
The car felt good today. There are a few improvements we can make but I just didn’t manage to put a lap together out there. That’s not a big issue, though. It’s just practice so that’s what we’re out there trying to do. I’m not sure how many laps we’ll get out of the tyres as there were quite a few red flags at the end so we didn’t get the best opportunity for long runs but that’s the same for everyone. It’s hard to tell where the tyres are compared to 2013 with the different compounds as we didn’t have any dry running until the race last year. Otherwise the circuit felt good. It’s nice and smooth and the grip is good. It’s different every time we come here and you never know what the weather is going to do. But that’s what makes this such an exciting race.
It looked like a pretty normal day in terms of performance, with Nico and Lewis trading fastest times during the two sessions, but the temperatures were much higher than we are expecting for the rest of the weekend. So we will have to anticipate how to develop the set-up in the right way. It was also an interrupted day, with several red flags, which made it a challenge for the boys to get into their rhythm. I would like to compliment the promoters on the job they have done with the new track surface. We have heard good feedback, likewise on the safer pit entry, and the higher grip level has also cut lap times to levels we have not seen for a number of years, which is great for the fans here in Brazil.
We managed to follow our normal programme today, running two sets of prime tyres in the first session on low and high fuel, followed by the prime and option in second practice, also on low and high fuel loads. Mechanically, it was a trouble-free day and the newly resurfaced circuit proved much quicker than expected and, although the tarmac was dirty early in the day, it soon cleaned up. The tyre behaviour shifted during the day: in the early runs, they were not really in their working window, while towards the end of the afternoon, when we saw some of the highest track temperatures of the season so far, we saw some heavy blistering. The major difficulty now will be that the weather predicted for tomorrow and Sunday is much cooler than what we saw today, so our long runs will not have been particularly representative. That will make it all the more important to anticipate the evolution in conditions and make the correct set-up decisions this evening.