Hamilton on top after day 1 in Brazil as rain threatens for Sunday
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Nov 2012   |  7:37 pm GMT  |  79 comments

Lewis Hamilton followed up his win in Austin last Sunday with a strong performance in practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix season finale.

The McLaren driver set a fastest time of 1m 14.028 to head championship leader Sebastian Vettel by 0.274 secs.

Having set the fastest low-fuel time on the medium tyre, his performance on the long runs also looked good, however he did give the tyres a breather from time to time, which he will not be able to do in race conditions. Rivals did unbroken sequences of laps, so the picture is not as clear as it may look. It seems that the Pirelli tyres are blistering in the heat, with track temperatures nudging 50 degrees. This would push teams into making two stops on Sunday, however the latest weather forecast suggests that Sunday will be wet, with rain starting to fall on Saturday evening after qualifying.

“It’s been one of the best Fridays we’ve had for a long, long time,” said Hamilton. “We’re certainly looking strong, but this place can be so tough on tyres that it’s hard to make any accurate predictions at this stage.

“The track and ambient temperatures were so high today that it felt almost as though I was sliding around the track with the tyres melting! Having said that, our long runs are usually tougher on the tyres [than shorter runs], but our long runs still looked quite good today.

McLaren has set itself the target of a 1-2 finish this weekend, which would give them second place in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of Ferrari, worth an extra $10 million to them compared to third.

Hamilton ran a higher downforce set-up on his car in the afternoon session than team mate Jenson Button, who started the afternoon session with low downforce and as a result had a straight line speed advantage of 11km/h over his team mate. However Button will need to improve from his 8th place today if he is to give McLaren a big payday on Sunday.

Mark Webber set the third fastest time, with Felipe Massa again faster than team mate Fernando Alonso, who was fifth. Ferrari looked like they have the speed to qualify on the second or third rows, but they will be wary of Button and the Lotus cars improving one lap pace tomorrow in final practice.

Ferrari split the work load on long runs, with Alonso running the hard tyre and Massa the soft. This will give them plenty of data to work with when planning Sunday’s race, although if the promised rain arrives it will be academic.

* This morning the teams tried out an evaluation specification of the 2013 Pirelli hard tyre. The tyre, which will have an orange sidewall, was close to the current hard tyre on performance, but has a different construction to even out the temperature across the tyre.

“We wanted to give teams the opportunity to try out our tyres before the first official test in February next year,” sad Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery. “So that they can start to understand how the new tyres interact with the current cars.

“The initial feedback we received has been very positive: the tyre that the teams tried today has a different structure with a faster warm-up. This delivers extra performance within a wider working range, due to increased cornering grip.”

BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX, Interlagos, Free Practice 2

1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m14.026s 35
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m14.300s + 0.274 40
3. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m14.523s + 0.497 37
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m14.553s + 0.527 37
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.592s + 0.566 37
6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m14.654s + 0.628 36
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m14.669s + 0.643 40
8. Jenson Button McLaren 1m14.863s + 0.837 40
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m14.994s + 0.968 37
10. Paul di Resta Force India 1m15.129s + 1.103 39
11. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m15.131s + 1.105 40
12. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m15.371s + 1.345 39
13. Bruno Senna Williams 1m15.432s + 1.406 45
14. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m15.542s + 1.516 35
15. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m15.839s + 1.813 43
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m15.902s + 1.876 39
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m15.953s + 1.927 47
18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m16.048s + 2.022 40
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m16.126s + 2.100 39
20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m16.655s + 2.629 42
21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m17.244s + 3.218 15
22. Timo Glock Marussia 1m17.675s + 3.649 42
23. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m18.127s + 4.101 31
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m18.139s + 4.113 15

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Could you shed some light on the penalty given to Maldonado for the “red light” incident in qualifying? I don’t recall ever hearing of such a charge/infraction. Thank you.


It’s a compulsory weight check for the car. Drivers are selected at random, to avoid cheating by running light.

He missed the red light, which is a no-no. The stewards didn’t accept the explanation and his reprimand put him on three strikes so he got a 10 place penalty


I just hope Lewis can keep Vettel at bay so Alonso can deservedly take the title!


Mcl must be concerned and anyone who thinks they are not is deluded! JB isa clever, quick driver with loads of experience. However his qualifying is not as good as others,FACT. Therefore he is always on the back foot in both set up and problems at the start. Facts speak for themselves, until JB can quallly better he will be unable to challenge for the championship. With LH you have a differant style of driver who CAN qualify at the front. This is therefore why he is always ahead of JB. Unless Mclsort this they cannot win the championships!


Tell Alonso to speed up a tiny bit. I want to win the signed book !


James, re ” The tyre, which *will* have an orange sidewall”.

Wasn’t the orange sidewall just to let us know it’s a development tyre? I would assume that next year, that tyre will be one of the existing colours.


No, that’s the colour it will be, Easier to tell apart from white sidewall medium tyre


I see. Thanks for clearing that up.


Honestly I wouldn’t want Vettel to DNF with the alternator issues.

A good fight and some mayhem is what I’m hoping for, which is very likely to happen in Interlagos.

I’ll be participating in the rain dance, are you?


Hamilton has the bit between his teeth, for final Mclaren glory this weekend, and even if he were to end up behind Alonso and Vettel at the start, either would be foolish to battle with him, considering the bigger prize they seek. Be interesting to see if there’s any of the “less expecteds”, qualify on the front rows ( Massa, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, etc ). Wet race start, if it happens, is going to make it mighty tense and interesting.


Wet race standing start, yes. Race started behind the SC would be less interesting.


What we don’t want is Vettel and Alonso running each other off the track…..I don’t like WC’s being decided by cars not running.

Just remember Senna and Prost, and Schumacher and Hill, and Schumacher and Villeneauve….funny how the Schui’s name comes up a lot. Lol. Bye bye to him on Sunday.

Go Hamilton.


Speaking of official testing next February. Have the dates been finalised yet please? Can’t beat going with a few friends to Barcelona for a sneak preview of the season ahead.



Given Sunday’s race is very likely to be wet, what impact do you think this will have only qualifying results as cars will probably qualify with wet set ups?

Regards boris


So I think I was right about Massa – he’s getting his act together in the latter half of the season and showing he has got it. Glad he’s got the drive next year…not so sure Alonso will be now

Mike from Colombia

Alonso can handle him no problems. Mentally, he has owned Massa since Germany 2010.


Since China 2010, when he barged him out of the way for his pitstop.


Mr Allen, when it comes to articulate the

race, You Sir are Numero uno.

Keep it up.


You cannot help but feel that McLaren are going to miss Hamilton big time next year.

Also curious that Button ran a low downforce setup. He must be praying for sunshine on Sunday, so that he can blitz the field on the long straight…..


I hope there is significant rain on Sunday so that the drivers championship will be more interesting due to uncertainty.

If its a dry race Vettel will be champion barring car problems or a huge mistake.


It looks like you will get you wish. I just checked the forecast for Sunday, and they are expecting 1 to 2 inches of rain. The high temperature will also fall 25 degrees.

Looks like a total lottery for Sunday!

Bring Back Murray



James, can you tell us who has the upper hand in the long runs today? I saw some interesting times from Grosjean and Alonso on hard tyres.


Since the race environmental conditions are expected to be so different from the practice an qualifying conditions, any predictions about the race, likely to be raining, and very likely to include at least one safety car deployment, should be taken advisedly, and most.

Way to go Lewy!

For the contenders:

Vettel-Red Bull:

It’s comparatively straight-forward at Red Bull. Besides making what ever preparations they can for the expected cold, wet weather, they just need to get the best car they can ready and reliable for Vettel, then let him do his stuff.


It’s complicated at Ferrari; they have to gamble one way or another. Even in a best case scenario, Vettel gets a DNF, Alonso still needs to be on the podium to win the championship. If Vettel finishes the race, then Alonso really almost must have a win. It’s been a while. But Ferrari will do everything they can to win; expect the unexpected this weekend, expect bizarre happenstance; if advantage can be gained in any way, expect Ferrari to be making the most of it.

I think you can look on an Alonso victory in the championship to be the only thing that will keep Stefano Domenicali secure in his job for another season.

The changing weather conditions favour the bold, and whether deserved or not, Alonso has the reputation of making the most of all conditions. One way or another, Ferrari are going to have to be ready for any track condition, maximized for any track conditions.

I expect radical tactics to get Fernando further up the grid.



The expected rain definitely could throw up surprises, but that 13 pt gap is BIG. And it’s nothing like 2010 when Seb was 15 pts behind, as Alonso had Webber 8 pts behind, and (mistakenly, in hindsight) covered him in the race. Vettel only has to cover off Alonso.

The logical result of this season would be Vettel winning, in the winning car. If Alonso won, it would be a big against-the-grain win, Ferrari could even be 3rd in the WCC!

Winning a WDC without a WCC is rare enough (10x in 54 complete seasons, 1958-2011), but only twice has it happened that someone’s won a WDC in a car outside the top two in the WCC. Those were:

1983 – N.Piquet with Brabham, 3rd in WCC

1982 – K.Rosberg with Williams, 4th in WCC

1982 was a totally upside-down year for F1 … I doubt something like it will ever be repeated.


First of all, I really appreciate the thoughtful comment from someone who is paying attention and knows what they are talking about.

Also, totally agree that the Rosberg win was nothing short of weird; but it was a highly variable year, non? And we have just enjoyed a highly variable year.

This year, in fact was the best I know of, for F1 championship. And not only do I think Vettel_Red Bull deserve the championship technically, but spiritually as well.

Be that as it may, the race starts in half an hour, Ferrari are the drama queens of the grid, their, at least borderline, ‘fanaticism’ to win is legendary, and few keen observers would argue the point; so anything can yet happen, and it is TOTALLY possible that Alonso may yet win.


I expect Vettel to get the pole, lead every lap and win


you’re wrong so far; no pole.


Hi James

There seems to be a trend with drivers changing helmet designed regularly. Any ideas why Massa had a more reddish helmet today?


It’s the colour scheme his Dad used in his touring car days apparently


Vettel is up by 13 points on Alonso.

And Ferrari is up by only 14 points on McLaren.

Ferrari look to be in line to take one heck of a beating this weekend. Especially if they get bumped by McLaren down to 3rd in WCC on top of the WDC loss.


Seems like the gap is close for the top ten. That’ll make qualifying very interesting. Hamilton in good form. My ideal race would be Hamilton, Schumacher and Alonso podium with a Seb DNF.


Wow. You call yourself a fan? This is how you want a WDC to be resolved?

No DNFs for anyone! Work it out on the track.


DNF´s are part of racing and we have seen plenty during the season, so why not this race? I rather they fight it out on track but just accept that the possibility is there and Vettel has more to lose.


[mod] Different people get different kicks out of watching the series, and your reasons are no more valid than anybody else's.


Boy how much would some of us love to repeat that ‘forget the past’ suggestion if George’s wish does come true!


I’m with you. It’s funny how Alonso fans don’t want Alonso to win in the wet, the want Vettel DNF.


Also funny how the same people who criticized VET and dont want him to win WDC for not having proven himself on track in a slower car want ALO to win by other drivers dropping out. Why even bother having the races? Lets just crown ALO champ for this year and next while we are at it. Its a bit of a double standard. VET has to prove he is worthy while ALO should just be appointed champ.


haha..great boxing analogy there Sebee


What’s wrong with the desire of Seb having a DNF?

All Alonso/Ferrari/anti Vettel-fans will be cheering for a Vettel DNF.

The neutral fans don’t care who wins – they just want to see a good race.

But I, and many with me want a DNF for Seb and Alonso on the podium!


I understand.

I know every time I watch a boxing match I’m in ultimate joy when one of the boxers forefits the match because he got injured in an accidental slip.


I don’t see any problems with that wishlist. There’s certainly nothing to suggest he’s not a fan! Every world championship, including this year, has been influenced by DNFs so what’s unusual here? Seems like we’ve got a very nervous Vettel fanboy here!


What happened before today doesn’t matter any longer. We’re here, let’s do it right.


I’m not really a fan of either driver so I don’t care how it’s resolved to be honest…


Why is button so far behind. Mclaren have a major problem next year without Lewis they won’t know the ultimate pass of their car.


button is so far behind because lewis is a much beter driver he is a racer.never really rated(understeer) button when he won his title he didnt win it the car did any top driver in the car would of won easy.we will see next year how fast button really is against perez.i will bet him to beat button everytime.lewis is something special like vettel and alonso.also we will see how good rosburg is next year.gonna be very interesting.


Button had a different setup, that may have hurt. Keep in mind its only Friday.


Because it’s only P1 & 2, not qualifying.

If you read the article, it explains that JB was running very low downforce – v.fast in a staight line, but not so good in the twisty bits.

Button is always slower than LH, but needs to be at least on the second row to cop the £10m.


“Did you read the title’ .. why do people feel its okay to be rude on the internet? my comment is very much based on fp1 &fp2 times as they are continuing on a common trend of buttons season. I then mention other races in response to people defending buttons times based on the fact it’s just a practice session.


See my reply above this isn’t a p1 or p2 issue.


Don’t know why it isn’t a P1 or 2 issue, that is exactly what this thread is about – hence my comment,

‘Hamilton on top after day 1 in Brazil’.

Did you read the title bar?


Button had the slimmer wing for a low-downforce set-up. You Hamilton fans are always dissing Button. Yet, everybody (except Ham fans of course) knows Button is a better and more consistent all-round driver. Jenson as the lead driver will take the Mclaren team to more titles without the baggage of Hamilton bringing the whole team down. Face it, Button will go on to be recognised as one of the all-time greats, Hamilton will remembered as a one-hit wonder. He’s not in the top-level class of Alonso, Button, Vettel, Riakkonnen.


You must be watching the F1 season that is going on in Cloud Cuckoo Land. You’re certainly not watching the F1 races that are going on in Planet Earth.


Love the sarcasm. 😀


OJ – Your dreaming mate

Mike from Colombia

Yeah…Alonso, Hamilton, Schumacher, Raikkonen, Vettel, Button….there’s one name that doesn’t quite fit in there…any guesses which??

Coulthard, Hill, Button, Frentzen, Hamilton…there’s one name that doesn’t fit here either…guess which one?


hahaha @QJ ‘Button is a better and more consistent all round driver’

Keep the jokes coming..

Button wouldn’t be regarded so highly if it wasn’t for the DD diffuser


Wow, you are on to something that’s eluded Ross Brawn and the Daimler Board members. If only they knew what you know, they wont be throwing $30million/year away on an overrated one-hit wonder.


So Button and Raikkonen are not also “one hit wonders” then? Both kind of lucked into a championship albeit in different ways. Hamilton will be a big loss to McLaren. Just look at the points difference and the number of wins this year with a temperamental car.


I’m a mclaren fan and prefer JB but there is a problem if you look at JB over the last few races you would say mclaren have a car problem. If you look at Lewis you’d say mclaren have the fastest car. So how will they know the out and out speed of the car next year when they have 2 drivers not known to have the raw pace of lewis no matter how good a racer they may be.


I’m not Hamilton fan, but you are so wrong…


You must be watching a “different” Formula One series…


The Button and Hamilton camps always seem to cloud an honest discussion about either driver.

I don’t cheer for either in particular, so my comments aren’t anti one or pro another.

To me, Button’s lack of single-lap speed is a big problem for McLaren. They need to qualify the car as high as it deserves. Next year, he really needs to find that pace or the team might suffer.


Clearly, I mean he’s only beaten two of them in the same car. Overrated taxi driver.


Start cheering for a McLaren 1-2 British fans! Bump Ferrari down to 3rd in WCC.


It’s not as though Ferrari need the money, they have a ‘special arrangement’ to get paid more than any other Team.

McL need the cash to make up the $100,000,000 they were fined.


The $100 million was reduced to $50 mill, then Ron wrote the $50 mill as tax write-off. The impact wasn’t as huge as it was first thought. No understating the size of the fine – just a correction.


Justin, not the case. Ferrari get a legacy payment as the longest continuous entrant in the series.

Why the hell would Lotus or Sauber get a legacy payment? It ain’t the same Lotus as Clark, Fittipaldi and Andretti drove with.

$50 million?! Your numbers are way off.


Ferrari, Mclaren, Williams, lotus, and sauber all get “Legacy payments” along with their championship winnings. Ferrari do get more than anyone else but they have been in the sport since its inception. i think they get 50 mil, mclaren 40 williams 30 and so on, don’t remember exact numbers,


5 words about Vettel?….I know your brittish but you had no impressions about Vettel during the 2 practice rounds at all?


Maybe there wasn’t much to say? Like most of his races… Flying first two laps. Maintain gap. Sorry, that was six words 🙂


Brittish ?

One T please old boy, 2 sugars.

Some of us are British, but we like Mr Vettel as much as anyone, this is the year he has really impressed me, he has had some proper races and has come out on top with a car that at times has been only marginally better than people he has passed. Before it looked like a Playstation game with the cheats on, this year it looks like a lot of great racer and a good car.


I am an Alonso fan, but feel that the anyone-but-Vettel vibe is pushing me toward hoping for Vettel III. This is a sport. Support your man/team but accept the result.


Look at the colours of this reply board?

McLaren anyone? 😉


Hello James,

On a different topic will you be writing an article soon on whether F1 has tipped over the edge with the percentage of pay drivers for next year and the talented driver left without a drive?


Perhaps the FIA should institute a “minimum salary” that teams must pay to their drivers. Other sports have minimums (my example is the NHL, wherein I think any player, even minor-league call-up’s, will make a minimum of $450k USD).

Sure, this wouldn’t stop pay drivers per se, but if the min salary was significant enough, teams would want to make sure that they have the best drivers available.


Bloody good article it was too!

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