November 22nd, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - The Brazilian Grand Prix weekend got off to a rainy start on Friday, as 22 Formula One cars took to a thoroughly wet Autódromo José Carlos Pace for the 90-minute first practice session. At the end of FP1, Nico Rosberg was quickest ahead of his Mercedes team-mate, Lewis Hamilton. World Champion Sebastian Vettel was third fastest for Red Bull.
Typically, a wet practice session is a good excuse for the drivers to stay in their pit garages rather than risking their cars on a treacherous track. But this weekend is a bit different, as just about every session is expected to be wet. That means there is a fair amount to be gained by running in wet conditions, particularly as most of this year's races have been dry and therefore there has not been much chance for the teams to gather data on the wet and intermediate tyres.
Pirelli provided the teams with prototype 2014-spec tyres for testing purposes on Friday. Unfortunately for the teams and Pirelli, the prototype tyres are slicks, made for dry weather running. As a result, only Red Bull ran the 2014 tyres, with Sebastian Vettel circulating very slowly for a few laps with some aerodynamic measuring devices attached to the rear of his car.
McLaren intended to run the 2014-spec tyres at the end of the session when they expected the track to have dried out a bit, but there was enough rain during the 90-minutes to make running on slicks unrealistic late in FP1.
In the early part of the session, the rain stopped for a while, and that was when the drivers typically set their best lap times. Rosberg was quickest from very early in the session, as no driver was able to find the grip that he had had before the rain returned.
Lewis Hamilton showed just how difficult it is to drive a Formula One car in the wet by having a gentle spin in turn 3 as he accelerated through the corner. He couldn't quite correct the spin and instead went into a long slide that ended with his Mercedes stationary in the middle track, facing the barrier that separates the track from the pit exit. After a brief delay as he found reverse gear, Hamilton was back on his way with no harm done.
Later in the session, Esteban Gutierrez had an impressive spin, from which he recovered by keeping his rear wheels spinning and sliding his car around to face the right way again.
Quite a few drivers had off-track excursions, some running wide in turn 1 and some going onto the run-off area on the exit of turn 12. But there were no crashes in the session, despite the tricky conditions.
Daniil Kvyat took part in his second FP1 session for Toro Rosso. He lookd immediately comfortable in the car and set the 8th fastest time, which is impressive considering the conditions and his relative lack of F1 experience.
At Marussia, Rodolfo Gonzalez drove Max Chilton's car to the slowest time of the session, 2.6 seconds off the pace of Jules Bianchi in the leading Marussia. At Force India, James Calado took over Paul Di Resta's car, but did only 9 laps as the team are concerned about engine mileage at his late stage of the season. Calado set the 18th fastest time of the session.
Full results from FP1:
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.387||0.606||17|
|6||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.797||1.016||17|
|15||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.115||2.334||25|
|18||14||James Calado||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.436||2.655||9|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:28.107||3.326||18|