Interlagos: Free Practice 3

Some say Saturday is the most important day of the race weekend as it contains the qualifying session in the afternoon. This is where pole position is decided and this has a massive affect on race day itself; by giving yourself a good position on Sunday can make the difference between hitting the podium and not.

As I write this the driver’s are out on the wet track getting some laps in, so before I give you the run down as to what happened I’ll fill you in with the unraveling ball of gossip that inevitably spills out during practice.

Tires

In terms of times set today they might be a bit slower as we have water on the track; so again  that word again ‘tires’ come into play. The teams come here with a certain tire allocation, and it’s the same for each team. They have acces to 11 sets of what’s know as ‘dry-weather’ (out of those 6 of the harder compound ‘primes’ and 5 of the softer ‘option’ tire), 4 sets of intermediates and then 3 full wets. Intermediates and full-wets have grooves in them to displace the water; and this is why you’ll hear commentators talking about the track drying out the longer the drivers are out there.

With the track the way it was this morning, everyone apart from Massa went out on full-wets to save their intermediates (which have a habit of not lasting) for qualifying. And by the looks of it, and taking into account the forcasted weather, it looks like they’ll be using a set for each qualifying session (Q1-3).

Renault/Lotus

Considering where these two teams are on the contructors league it may seem odd to pair them together in a post; but it spells good news for Renault as they’re looking to scale back their involvement. So next year we’re going to see Proton come on board as title sponsers, taking over from ING (2009), and give the team the new name ‘Lotus Renault’. Now what does this mean for the Lotus team? Well, they’ve come to Brazil with ‘1Malaysia’ on the car, but the naming issue is still rumbling on with Group Lotus. So only time will tell.

Red Bull

Well they had to feature didn’t they? Helmut Marko is down in the pits…and that’s pretty much it on him, but with his name being dropped in the mix at Thursday’s press conference, his presence is worth a mention. And an update on the Mark Webber situation; he’s staying at Red Bull as long as he’s enjoying it and driving well.

McLaren

Apparently taking risks with the set up to strategise with the weather.

KERS

Now an option for the 2011 system. Mercedes is looking to capitalise from this inclusion as they had the best KERS set up by far in 2009; so this includes both Mercedes GP and Mercedes McLaren. This might be great for Mercedes and the other top teams (Ferrari struggled with KERS), but the smaller teams will struggle to utilise it due to the astronomical cost. The system will cost €6 million and now looks like an excuse to spend money; some have commented on this with regards to the global economic landscape. (See the glossary for KERS info)

Free Practice 3

13:00: The session starts and the first cars that go out sends a wall of spray up into the air. Full-wets are a certainty to save the intermediates. Sauber reporting light rain will carry on for 30 minutes, then improve.

13:08: All the drivers now have completed an installation lap. McLaren set-up – Button on old rear wing and Hamilton has a new one for higher downforce.

13:12: First time on the board if Timo Glock from Virgin with 1:24.642 and Heidfeld behind with 1:31.815.

13:19: Nico Hulkenberg goes into the lead, a 1:21.976, then it’s Vitaly Petrov (1:22.298) and then Sebastien Buemi following up behind (1:22.221).

13:24: Hulkenberg improves to 1:20.535 with Webber in second after a 1:21.366. Hamilton and Button are third and fourth.

13:29: Alonso posts  his first time of the day (1:20.200) then improves to 1:19.791. Hamilton improves by one place with 1:19.912 and Webber overtakes Button and goes into 3rd with a 1:20.337 lap. Everyone’s making the move to intermediates as the track dries out.

13:33: Massa goes into the lead with 1:19.735

13:41: Vettel finally makes an appearance and overtakes Massa with a respectable 1:19.500. Alonso behind his teammate in 3rd.

13:58: Kubica ends FP3 on a high and pips Vettel with a 1:19.191, then it’s Vettel (1:19.500) and Hamilton (1:19.536). Webber finsihes in 11th; but just for comparison Vettel did 12 laps and Webber only 6.

14:00: Last practice session of the weekend is over. Jenson Button ended the session complaining about his car being unbalanced.

Now we just  have to wait for the small matter of qualifying…later rookies!

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