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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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