Practice 1: Vettel top as Red Bulls set pace
5 November, 2010
Nov.5 (Reuters) Sebastian Vettel was nearly half a second faster than Red Bull team mate Mark Webber on Friday in the opening free practice session for what could be a title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who leads Webber in the championship by 11 points and could clinch his third title if results go his way on Sunday, coasted to a halt in the closing minutes with a rough sounding engine.
However Ferrari, who have been managing the Spaniard’s engines carefully for months after early-season problems, were unconcerned.
“The situation is going on according to plans,” Ferrari had said earlier on their Twitter feed. “In order to manage the mileage in the best way we will change his engine unit between the two sessions so don’t get worried if you will see the mechanics working on car number eight between the sessions.”
Alonso was 13th fastest with team mate Felipe Massa 14th, subdued as has been their custom at several races this season.
Red Bull, with Vettel desperate to win after engine failure while leading in South Korea left the young German 25 points behind Alonso with two races remaining, set the pace as expected on a hot morning at Interlagos.
The growing rift and increasingly bitter rivalry between their two drivers was highlighted on Thursday when Webber accused the team of being emotionally behind Vettel and described his own title challenge as ‘inconvenient’.
Vettel’s subsequent remark, to German television, that “If Mark needs help then he should take the medical car” hardly improved relations.
With the fuse well and truly lit, the 23-year-old lapped the anti-clockwise circuit in one minute 12.328 seconds.
Australian Webber, winner at Interlagos last season, was 0.482 slower.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, third in the championship challenge and 21 points behind Alonso, was third fastest 0.517 off Vettel’s pace with team mate and world champion Jenson Button fourth.
Button is the fifth driver still in mathematical contention, but 42 points off the pace on his return to the track where he won the title with Brawn last year.
Renault’s Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov spun into the tyre barriers with eight minutes of the session remaining while Sauber’s Japanese Kamui Kobayashi also went off at Ferradura with a puncture.
5 November 2010 – Free Practice 1 Times
|6||4||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:13.516||1.188||26|
|8||3||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:13.643||1.315||25|
|9||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:13.918||1.590||26|
|10||22||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:14.000||1.672||23|
|11||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:14.004||1.676||23|
|16||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:14.487||2.159||26|