Free Practice 3
A wet and overcast morning greeted Saturday practice at Interlagos, with some overnight rain leaving the circuit sodden. Initially Nico Hulkenberg set the early pace in his Williams, but was eventually topped by title challengers Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso.
However, by the end of the sixty minutes, it was the Renault of Robert Kubica that claimed the top spot, some 0.3 of-a-second ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa ran an extra brake duct fin in his Ferrari as he searched for an advantage in the damp conditions – it would help the Sao Paulo native to 4th best on the sheets.
Another driver with slight changes was McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton – the 2008 World Champion changed his rear wing rear springs for the Saturday morning, eventually setting the 3rd best time of the session. Alonso claimed 5th at the chequered flag, but fellow title challenger Mark Webber only did six laps – enough to secure 11th in the standings.
The qualifying hour may have started damp, but come the end of Q3, dry lines were beginning to appear all around the famed Interlagos circuit.
Indeed the Brazilian circuit has drawn up some scintillating scenes and only a few will compare with Nico Hulkenberg’s revelatory pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix.
The German rookie planted his Williams on top of the pile by a full second ahead of the Red Bull’s.
Initially his veteran team mate Rubens Barrichello was the first to switch to slick tyres as the track dried in the final ten minute stint, but it was Hulkenberg that made the most of the conditions.
An all-German front-row was set for the race. Sebastian Vettel will line-up alongside Hulkenberg tomorrow afternoon, with fellow title contenders Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton on the second row. Fernando Alonso was disappointed to only line up 5th, with Barrichello alongside him, but Alonso may be more than a little irritated that his rear gunner, Felipe Massa is only lining up 9th.
Robert Kubica was the first the Renault’s (again) in 7th place ahead of 10th position Vitaly Petrov, while Michael Schumacher was the quicker of the two Mercedes cars – the veteran will start in 8th.
Reigning champion Jenson Button had a dreadful second session – the McLaren found himself mired in 11th. He is ahead of the leading Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi (12th) and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg (13th). Jaime Alguersuari set the 14th fastest time ahead of team mate Sebastien Buemi; however the Swiss driver carries a penalty over from Korea and will start 19th. Nick Heidfeld and Vitantonio Liuzzi fill out the eighth row.
Adrian Sutil was the big name to drop out of the opening qualifying stint – the German will also have to accept a four-place grid penalty from incidents in Korea two weeks ago, leaving him to start from 22nd position.
Timo Glock won the battle of the new teams, planting his Virgin Racing car in 17th just ahead Jarno Trulli’s Lotus. The slowest of the field were the Hispania pair – Christian Klien planting his car 0.7 of-a-second ahead of Bruno Senna.
Brazil, 3rd Free Practice (November 6th)
1 KUBICA Renault 1m19.191s
2 VETTEL Red Bull 1m19.500s
3 HAMILTON McLaren 1m19.536s
4 MASSA Ferrari 1m19.735s
5 ALONSO Ferrari 1m19.791s
6 PETROV Renault 1m19.887s
7 BUEMI Toro Rosso 1m20.009s
8 ROSBERG Mercedes 1m20.056s
9 BUTTON McLaren 1m20.164s
10 BARRICHELLO Williams 1m20.320s
11 WEBBER Red Bull 1m20.337s
12 SCHUMACHER Mercedes 1m20.421s
13 KOBAYASHI Sauber 1m20.452s
14 HULKENBERG Williams 1m20.535s
15 ALGUERSUARI Toro Rosso 1m20.541s
16 LIUZZI Force India 1m20.546s
17 SUTIL Force India 1m20.613s
18 HEIDFELD Sauber 1m20.985s
19 TRULLI Lotus 1m22.326s
20 GLOCK Virgin 1m22.449s
21 KOVALAINEN Lotus 1m22.874s
22 DI GRASSI Virgin 1m23.194s
23 SENNA HRT 1m23.358s
24 KLIEN HRT 1m23.650s
Brazil, Qualifying (November 6th)
1 HULKENBERG Williams 1m14.470s
2 VETTEL Red Bull 1m15.519s
3 WEBBER Red Bull 1m15.637s
4 HAMILTON McLaren 1m15.747s
5 ALONSO Ferrari 1m15.989s
6 BARRICHELLO Williams 1m16.203s
7 KUBICA Renault 1m16.552s
8 SCHUMACHER Mercedes 1m16.925s
9 MASSA Ferrari 1m17.101s
10 PETROV Renault 1m17.656s
11 BUTTON McLaren 1m19.288s
12 KOBAYASHI Sauber 1m19.385s
13 ROSBERG Mercedes 1m19.486s
14 ALGUERSUARI Toro Rosso 1m19.581s
15 HEIDFELD Sauber 1m19.899s
16 LIUZZI Force India 1m20.357s
17 GLOCK Virgin 1m22.130s
18 TRULLI Lotus 1m22.250s
19 BUEMI Toro Rosso 1m19.847s (*4-place grid penalty)
20 KOVALAINEN Lotus 1m22.378s
21 DI GRASSI Virgin 1m22.810s
22 KLIEN HRT 1m23.083s
23 SUTIL Force India 1m20.830s (*4-place grid penalty)
24 SENNA HRT 1m23.796s