F1Weekly podcast # 609



Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first practice for the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday, while Formula One leader Sebastian Vettel was second.


Fernando Alonso, the only driver fighting Vettel for the title, was fifth.


Hamilton, in his last race with McLaren, had a lap of 1 minute, 14.131 seconds at Interlagos, edging Vettel’s Red Bull. Vettel teammate Mark Webber was third in 1:14.198 and Jenson Button of McLaren was fourth in 1:14.217.


Alonso, who tested different wings during the morning session, clocked 1:14.392, finishing ahead of Ferrari teammate and home-crowd favorite Felipe Massa.


Vettel has a 13-point lead over Alonso and needs to finish fourth or better to become F1’s youngest three-time champion at age 25. He can also be the first to win three in a row since Michael Schumacher in 2004.


There was just a second separating the top 11 drivers in the first session. Drivers from McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari secured the top six spots.


Teams were given two sets of the prototype Pirelli tires that will be used next year, allowing them to have an idea of what to expect in their 2013 cars.


Drivers used the new tires during most of the morning session, with Hamilton complaining of overheating at times. Sauber’s Sergio Perez—who will be replacing the British driver at McLaren in 2013—said the new sets had more mid-corner grip.


Hamilton escaped a collision near the end of the practice after a Marussia car spun in front of him.


It was a hot and sunny day, but rain was expected for Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race in Sao Paulo. The second practice is later in the afternoon.


Red Bull has won the last three races in Brazil and Vettel finished second last year at Interlagos. The German driver has finished fourth or better in the last six races this year, and two-time champion Alonso hasn’t won since the German GP in July.


In addition to crowning the champion, the Brazilian GP marks the end to Schumacher’s career for the second time. F1’s most successful driver, Schumacher retired with Ferrari in 2006 and returned with Mercedes in 2010. He managed one podium finish this year.


Schumacher had the 11th fastest time in the first session on Friday.


It will be the sixth time since 2005 that the F1 season will be decided at the Brazilian GP. Alonso won both of his titles at Interlagos in 2005 and ’06.


Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1m14.131s            33
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1m14.140s  + 0.009   35
 3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1m14.198s  + 0.067   34
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1m14.217s  + 0.086   31
 5.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1m14.392s  + 0.261   28
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1m14.716s  + 0.585   29
 7.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1m14.719s  + 0.588   33
 8.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1m14.738s  + 0.607   34
 9.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       1m15.015s  + 0.884   37
10.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1m15.050s  + 0.919   32
11.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1m15.114s  + 0.983   36
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1m15.255s  + 1.124   31
13.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1m15.396s  + 1.265   32
14.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault       1m15.413s  + 1.282   23
15.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m15.587s  + 1.456   35
16.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1m15.701s  + 1.570   16
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m16.048s  + 1.917   35
18.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1m16.315s  + 2.184   36
19.  Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault       1m16.460s  + 2.329   32
20.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1m16.506s  + 2.375   31
21.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1m16.617s  + 2.486   30
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1m17.234s  + 3.103   26
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1m17.678s  + 3.547   15
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1m17.895s  + 3.764   13