2014 Brazilian Grand Prix: Friday Analysis

Nico Top of Stop Start Day

Day one in Brazil certainly wasn’t a simple affair for team’s and it is becoming quite evident that many resources are beginning to become stretched, at the end of a gruelling campaign. In a day where there were issues aplenty up and down the pit lane, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton enjoyed relatively trouble free running as the German came out of top. However, today’s sessions may prove academic if the notoriously complex Sao Paulo weather forecast is to be believed.

Grip At A Premium

Getting to grips with the Interlagos circuit was easier said than done this morning, as the freshly laid asphalt failed to yield the desired amount of grip. As far as FP1 session go, Daniel Juncadella’s morning was a disaster. The young Spaniard took control of Sergio Perez’s Force India – an early spin at Turn Seven was a prologue of things to come, as Daniel ploughed into the barriers at the very same corner later on. The subsequent damage left Perez without a car for the second session and has put the Mexican on the backfoot heading into tomorrow.
However, Juncadella was not the only man to suffer at the hands of the circuit. In FP1, both Ferrari’s also suffered excursions and Max Verstappen performed an arcade racing style drift as he searched for adhesion – less Max, more Mario. In all fairness, it was Verstappen who once again impressed, with another trouble free outing. Suddenly, it seems that the paddock are forgetting his tender age and are beginning to appreciate his evident talent.
FP2 saw yet more slipping and sliding. With unprecedented track temperatures for Sao Paulo, drivers battled tyre blisters on the 60 degree surface. After Pirelli were backed into a corner by drivers and teams who suggested that hard and medium compound tyres were too conservative, it seems as though with a softer option, Sunday will now be a case of pit stop’s aplenty. It seems as though the tyres will last for only 15 laps before significant losses in grip, while one flying lap brings peak performance to an abrupt end. Daniil Kvyat completed 19 laps on the soft tyre, yet suffered an “undriveable” car by the end of the stint and required all of his talents to merely keep his car away from the perilously present barriers.
What is important to note is that today’s tyre temperatures are unlikely to be seen again for the remainder of the weekend, so degradation should not be as significant over the preceding days. How less significant it will be remains to be seen an this is largely why today’s running could be largely academic in the context of the event.

Seems Like Christmas Is Coming…

It’s November, and in the most technically challenging season in over 20 years, teams are beginning to run out of resources. Evidently, the Friday powertrain’s are reaching the end of their lifespan, as numerous drivers suffered failures. After stepping aside for Verstappen in FP1, Jean Eric Vergne faced yet another Friday with seriously limited running, as his Toro Rosso ground to a halt within the first fifteen minutes. Then, to compound his dramas in FP1, Esteban Gutierrez broke down in FP2, in a final twenty minutes which were fragmented by two red flags – Fernando Alonso’s fiery exit was also a result of running an old powertrain that was a mere 20 minutes from the scrapheap. As such, the damage done by many of the breakdowns today will be nothing more than limiting track time. It is the natural gremlins which will inevitably arise after such a tough campaign.  

Storyline

Attention to the on-track shenanigans was at best tenuous today, as off-track news stories were the main talking points. Firstly, it seems that McLaren are making steps towards a driver announcement and is it not pleasant reading for Jenson Button fans. Following a dejected interview, a Magnussen and Alonso partnership is looking ever more likely, yet our application of inference has been wrong in the past – just yesterday, Sauber announced the signing of a driver who had drifted off the radar of late. 
Meanwhile, the desperately sad news that Marussia have folded shocked the paddock this morning. Hopes of securing investment have fallen through and redundancies have now been made. Without a workforce, it seems Banbury has shut its doors for good as the winding down process has begun in earnest. Elsewhere, a now even more vulnerable Caterham outfit have turned to the last-ditch route of ‘crowdfunding’, where donations can be made by the public, in the hope that the team can return to the grid. A $2.3 million target has been set and will expire at the end of the week. However, this is most certainly not a long-term solution, but if the fans group together, it could give the team a lifeline. 
FP1 Timesheet
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:12.764
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.985 
3 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:13.723 
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:13.742 
5 Felipe Massa Williams 1:13.811 
6 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:13.827 
7 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:14.034
8 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:14.114
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:14.136 
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:14.197 
11 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:14.434 
12 Felipe Nasr Williams 1:14.522 
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:14.678 
14 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:14.902 
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:15.109 
16 Daniel Juncadella Force India 1:16.030 
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 
18 Jenson Button McLaren 
    
FP2 Timesheet

1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:12.123
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.336
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:12.696
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:12.956
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:13.035
6 Felipe Massa Williams 1:13.099
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:13.122
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:13.254
9 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:13.333
10 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:13.479
11 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:13.497
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:13.714
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:13.882
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:13.902
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:14.204
16 Jenson Button McLaren 1:14.209
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:17.171
18 Sergio Perez Force India 

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