Formula 1

Nico Rosberg leads as Lewis Hamilton holds back at Brazil Grand Prix

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Nico Rosberg led both Friday practice sessions ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The German posted a 1:12.123 on the soft tyres in the afternoon, two tenths clear of the Briton but Hamilton kept something in reserve pitting on a lap that would have seen him go quicker than the sister Mercedes.

Baking in Brazil

With rain forecast for the weekend, bright and sunny conditions greeted the teams although when its dry at Interlagos that means the temperatures are among the highest all season with air temperatures in the early 30s in the second session and a track temperature of nearly 60 degrees Fahrenheit

This cause havoc with the tyres as Pirelli brought the soft and medium compounds to Sao Paulo after some drivers, notably Felipe Massa, lobbied for a more aggressive approach.

While the mediums were relatively OK, the yellow-striped softs were blistering quite severely in some case raising the prospect for a three-stop race on Sunday, however, lower ambient temperatures, along with possible rain, could see those issues negated during the weekend.

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New tarmac equals low grip

The reason why some drivers called for Pirelli to go a step softer on their original designation of compounds for Brazil is because the circuit was resurfaced in the past couple of weeks.

With such fresh tarmac comes a major lack of grip and the argument being made was that the hardest compounds would not give enough traction, indeed as F1 cars were the first to run on the new surface many struggled to keep it on the straight and narrow.

Many drivers locked brakes into the tricky Senna 'S' and ran across the run-off area on the inside of turn two, while Daniel Juncadella, who ran for Force India in the morning session, lost control at the long right-hander of Ferradura and crashed leaving Sergio Perez stranded in the garage during the afternoon.

Kimi Raikkonen had an eventful day setting the third best time overall and nearly getting involved in several incidents with other cars, but he also reminded us of a moment during the 2012 race as the lost control under braking twice for Juncao and look to enter the support race pits only to find the entrance locked.

Several facing late season mechanical blues

The afternoon session usually sees drivers complete race simulations in order to gauge the strategies for the race, however, several mechanical issues caused multiple red flags.

Jean-Eric Vergne lost drive in his Toro Rosso early on and then Fernando Alonso had a suspected engine failure with all the verve and passion you would expect from a Spanish- Italian combination as smoke followed by a exhaust fire saw the double world champion change from racing driver to firefighter.

If Alonso's problems disrupted those just starting their long run then Esteban Gutierrez's stoppage requiring a third red flag to clear away his car all but ruined them a mere few minutes after the session had restarted.

Rain set to spice up qualifying

The lack of information, except for the issues with the soft tyres, may not be quite so bad due to the aforementioned weather forecast.

Indeed looking ahead to qualifying Mercedes certainly look dominant over a single lap but with almost certain rain heading for Interlagos on Saturday the order from Friday will be scrambled up again.

It may offer Red Bull inparticular the chance to fight with the Silver Arrows for pole position whereas their usual rivals Williams may struggle to even make the top 10 if their recent wet weather woes continue.

McLaren on the other hand could benefit as could Toro Rosso who traditionally also enjoy greater success in the slippery conditions.

In many ways then it was a day that epitomises what the Brazilian Grand Prix is all about. Unpredictability, nothing really running as it should and that feeling of really now knowing what lies just around the corner but that is why we love Interlagos as much as we do. 

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