by Luca Colajanni
It has been very tight in terms of lap times at the first day of track action for
the FORMULA 1 GRANDE PREMIO HEINEKEN DO BRASIL 2018. In free
practice, the fastest four drivers all lapped within 165 thousandths of a
second of one another. Valtteri Bottas was fastest overall with a lap in
1.08.846 in the second session for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
going down to Max Verstappen, the slowest of the quartet, with a 1.09.011
for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. In between, the now five times world
champion, Lewis Hamilton, was second fastest, just three thousandths
slower than his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team-mate, with his
worthy rival Sebastian Vettel (Scuderia Ferrari) third in FP2 with a best lap of
The gaps are always small here, as Interlagos is such a short and quick track,
which has usually produced spectacular racing with plenty of overtaking.
As was the case a fortnight ago at Mexico City’s Hermanos Rodriguez circuit,
here at another track named after a famous driver from the past, namely
Carlos Pace, Red Bull proved capable of mixing it with the two teams still
fighting it out for the Constructors’ title. Unfortunately, reliability problems
continue to be the Milton Keynes team’s Achilles Heel. At the start of the
Brazilian weekend came the news that Daniel Ricciardo will take a five place
grid penalty, for changing the turbocharger on his power unit. As for
Verstappen, he lost the first half of the second session, apparently due to an
oil leak that took a long time to fix. It meant that the winner of the Mexican
Grand Prix completed just 44 laps in total today, four less than Bottas
managed in just the second session.
As always, evaluating the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres is a major part of
everyone’s Friday programme and the results must always be looked at with
extreme caution, especially on a “green” track like Interlagos. The same goes
for the apparent signs of degradation seen on some cars. The work of the
engineers over the next few hours will be crucial in adapting the cars to the
predicted track evolution, given that, at the moment, the forecast is for much
warmer conditions on Sunday.
While the Drivers’ title was decided in Mexico, the Constructors’ one is still up
for grabs with Mercedes leading Ferrari by 55 points. To keep the fight going
down to the final race, the Maranello team has to score 13 more points than
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