Brazilian Grand Prix: Friday Practice Recap

Event:  Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 (FP1 and FP2) 

Date:  Friday, Nov. 9

Location:  Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo

Layout:  4.309-kilometer (2.677-mile), 15-turn circuit

FP1 Weather:  Partly cloudy

FP1 Air Temps:  20.2-21.9 degrees Celsius (68.4-71.4 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP1 Track Temps:  27.4-38.6 degrees Celsius (81.3-101.5 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP2 Weather:  Mostly cloudy

FP2 Air Temps:  19.5-21 degrees Celsius (67.1-69.8 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP2 Track Temps:  29.7-34.2 degrees Celsius (85.5-93.6 degrees Fahrenheit)

Drivers:  Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen

Grosjean:  7th quick (1:09.922), 28 laps completed

Magnussen:  8th quick (1:10.236), 15 laps completed

Fastest Driver:  Max Verstappen of Red Bull (1:09.011)

Most Laps:  Esteban Ocon and Nicholas Latifi of Force India, and Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hulkenberg of Renault (34 laps each)

Grosjean:  7th quick (1:09.769), 44 laps completed

Magnussen:  9th quick (1:10.007), 39 laps completed

Fastest Driver:  Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes (1:08.846)

Most Laps:  Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes and Carlos Sainz Jr. of Renault (48 laps each)

The penultimate round of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo as teams prepared for the Brazilian Grand Prix Sunday.

Two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 4.309-kilometer (2.677-mile), 15-turn circuit were run under mostly cloudy conditions, with Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen navigating the undulating, anticlockwise track in the city’s Interlagos neighborhood.

Both Grosjean and Magnussen ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire in FP1. Grosjean’s quick time of 1:09.922 came on his 13th lap. He ran 28 laps and was the seventh-fastest driver. Magnussen’s best time was a 1:10.236 on his 12th lap. He posted the eighth-quickest time and ran only 15 laps, as a lockup in turn eight on his last run flatspotted his tires, which prevented him from running a second stint. Both drivers complimented the balance of their Haas VF-18s, at least initially, as Grosjean felt some understeer late in his run.

Leading the way in FP1 was Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, whose fast lap of 1:09.011 was .049 of a second better than the next quickest driver, Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Speeds picked up and lap times dropped in FP2. Grosjean remained the seventh-quickest driver in FP2 with a time of 1:09.769, which was .153 of a second better than his best lap in FP1. His quick time came on the ninth of his 44 laps on a set of supersofts. Magnussen shaved .229 of a second off his FP1 time with a lap of 1:10.007, good for ninth fastest. His quick lap came on his 13th tour, also while utilizing supersofts. He completed 39 laps. The two drivers ran slightly different programs in FP2, as Grosjean began on Yellow soft tires and Magnussen started on White medium tires.

The Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton stood atop FP2. Bottas’ lap of 1:08.846 was a scant .003 of a second better than Hamilton. The Interlagos track record of 1:08.322, set last year by Bottas in the final round of knockout qualifying, remained intact.

Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 126 laps – 72 by Grosjean and 54 by Magnussen.

“It was a good day. I think the car worked pretty well here, especially after Mexico where we struggled a little bit. It was good to be best-of-the-rest in both sessions. I’m happy with that. There’s some more work to be done. We’re exploring a few different things on the setup to see which direction to go. We’ll put it all together to be ready for FP3 and qualifying tomorrow, and then for the race on Sunday.”

“It wasn’t too bad today. It was a good start for us. The car felt good from the get-go. It was fast, as well. The pace looked good. As always, we have a few things to work on and get right, but we’re in a good place, I believe. I think we’re more or less in the window balance-wise. There are always things you can do better and improve, but we’ll try and be best-of-the-rest here.”

“We’ve had pretty good sessions today. It’s good to be back performing again after Mexico. I always say a Friday doesn’t mean a lot, but it gives us an idea where we should be. Hopefully, tomorrow we can continue on the path we were on today and enjoy a good qualifying session.”

Drivers have one more practice session on Saturday (12:00-13:00 local time) before qualifying starts at 15:00. Qualifying consists of three rounds, with the 15 fastest drivers from Q1 moving on to Q2. Then, the 10 fastest drivers from Q2 advance to Q3 where they’ll battle for the pole.