Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton both expect to be quick after Brazil practice

Lewis Hamilton trailled title rival Felipe Massa in practice

Lewis Hamilton trailled title rival Felipe Massa in practice

After the first day’s practice in Brazil both Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton claimed their cars would be very strong on the Interlagos circuit – even though neither of them set the fastest time so far.

Fernando Alonso’s 1’12.296 stands as the fastest time of the weekend so far. But his time, set in the second session, was only 0.009s faster than Massa’s bet in the Ferrari in session one.

Lewis Hamilton was almost two tenths of a second slower than Massa – but declared he felt very confident about his car’s performance. Here’s a look at the times from practice today.

At the end of free practice one only five drivers had cracked the 1’13s barrier: Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen, in that order.

These were also the only five drivers not to improve their times in the second practice session. So, had they moved their programmes onto long-distance runs and therefore failed to lap as quickly? After all, a cleaner, more rubbered-in surface should have aided their lap times.

Instead Alonso rose to the top of the times with Massa second and Hamilton down in eighth.

With Kovalainen slumping from fifth to 15th it looked for all the world like McLaren had gone the wrong way on setup. Not so, claimed Hamilton:

Our car was blindingly quick this morning despite the cold weather, which made the track feel quite slippery. This afternoon we focused on our race pace – but we were interrupted by the threat of rain and the changeable wind direction.

I flat-spotted my tyres on a couple of runs, but I’m positive that the changes we’ve made will put us in a good position for tomorrow.

His version of events seems to be supported by the lap times (see below). He set his fastest lap so far on only his sixth lap of the circuit. But that two tenths deficit to Massa in the first session does suggest Ferrari has the faster car here. Massa said:

We are much more competitive and always when you are competitive it is even better for motivation.

I think it was a good start. We were very strong, very competitive and the pace was very good. In the last race Lewis was very strong on the Friday and today it was the opposite, it shows that our car is much more competitive than in Shanghai and that is for sure a very good start.

Alonso’s late flier was partly aided by low fuel – but he had enough in his car for at least four laps so he wasn’t ultra-light.

What’s your take on the practice times? Here’s the lap breakdowns in full:

2008 Brazilian Grand Prix free practice 1 lap times (PDF)
2008 Brazilian Grand Prix free practice 2 lap times (PDF)

Remember to join us live for free practice 3 and qualifying live blogging tomorrow. More details here: Join in the Brazilian GP live blogs

Felipe Massa is flying on home ground

Felipe Massa is flying on home ground

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14 comments on Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton both expect to be quick after Brazil practice

  1. I’m just hoping for both Renault and BMW to be close to the Ferrari and McLaren so we can have an exciting first corner pile-up :)

  2. Is Kimi using the sharkfin?

  3. David - BR said on 1st November 2008, 4:37

    Maybe Lewis has some cause for optimism with the car, but I’d be more confident if he’d looked like he’d found his way round section 2 of the circuit. Instead he didn’t seem to have that much control over the car (locking up, flat-spotting) and was relatively much slower in this section. Lewis just doesn’t convince me at Interlagos. Maybe all the Senna stuff daunts him too much – it’s the kind of circuit he should be great at. Maybe it’ll come together in final practice.

    Kovi in 15th doesn’t exactly look promising either. Yet again. Just now I’d say Massa is certain to win this race. If so Hamilton has to find a way of ensuring 5th place is safe: I can see him losing places at the start again this year to Kimi and Alonso, and maybe Kubica. McLaren’s strategy (and briefing) has to include this scenario. Basically, if he’s back down in 6th or 7th by the middle of the first lap, he has to keep cool and realize making up 1 or 2 places over the race distance is still very possible if he keeps cool. It’s looking tight.

  4. Cameron aka. SkinBintin said on 1st November 2008, 4:39

    I am desperate to see Hamilton win from Pole. My heart is racing with anticipation. I still won’t be upset if Massa takes the championship though, as he too is a very talented driver.

    I haven’t been this excited for the final race of a season in YEARS!

  5. i never read too much in to practice times, it is looking good though, few cars up on the pace, might be some interesting qualifying results.

    watching the practice – kimi had a fair few ‘moments’ losing traction and trying to find grip, his continuing issues with qualifying might come back into play tonight. maybe 5th or 6th?

    massa will be strong, i’m thinking for qualifying

    massa
    hamilton
    alonso
    kimi
    kubica
    vettel

  6. Chris said on 1st November 2008, 7:54

    Sumedh – Kimi used the shark fin the whole time in both practice sessions.

  7. Patrickl said on 1st November 2008, 8:20

    In the second free practice it was obvious that Hamilton kept messing up his laps. Often going in with smoking tyres on the first corner or into Bico de Pato (slow corner halfway around the track). If you look at the lap times from the time sheet, Massa has done 21 laps under 1:14, Hamilton only 10. Hamilton did less laps (about 23 “fast” laps vs 29 for Massa not counting in and out laps), but still he has a much bigger spread in his times.

    If you look at the distribution of the fast laps (1:14 or faster), Massa has most of his times around 1:13.1 and with Hamilton that would be around 1:13.5. That would imply that Hamilton is 4 tenths off on race pace.

    I’d say Hamilton really came out on bottom of the two during that second practice. Inconsistent, slower and he seemed to be struggling with the car.

  8. Patrickl said on 1st November 2008, 8:43

    Created a lap time distribution chart. Also added Kimi and I’d say he has a median laptime of about 1:13.3 (between Massa and Hamilton)

    http://arcade.laweb.nl/F1/Bra_FP2_LaptimeDistribution.jpg

  9. Patrickl

    May I suggest you to change one of the “red” colours for another one. It’s really dificult to know who is Massa and who is Raikkonen.

    In any case, thank for that.

  10. Yusuf said on 1st November 2008, 10:03

    ITV UK never covers the final practice, are we going to have a live blog?

  11. It doesn’t matter how fast Massa is compared to Lewis as long as Lewis finishes top 5. Massa can do what he likes…

  12. I wonder if Hamilton will run heavy in an attempt to get third on the grid and avoid the need to battle with the Ferraris

  13. Yusuf said on 1st November 2008, 14:44

    The only stupid driver who deliberately seeks to interfere is Alonso who is running extremely light.

    Anybody looking for 3 stops or one stops is going to plan coming last because this track is for pure racing only. Drivers only get few hundred of a second if they plan to run light.

    That is exactly how the stupid Alonso did it by being 0.071 faster than LH in Practice 3. Messing up Hamiltons plan must come up top of the pile in his book, than racing.

  14. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st November 2008, 14:56

    Yusuf – Alonso’s been getting quicker and quicker over the past few races. I think the pace he’s showing is probably on merit.

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