Practice 1: Webber top as Alonso blows engine
25 November, 2011
Nov.25 (Reuters) Red Bull’s Mark Webber, with one last chance to win a race in a year dominated by team mate Sebastian Vettel, lapped fastest in first practice for the season-ending Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix on Friday.
The Australian, whose victory at Interlagos in 2009 was overshadowed by Jenson Button winning the title, clocked a best time of one minute 13.811 seconds around an anti-clockwise circuit that ranks as one of his favourites.
Webber was a title contender right to the end last season but has not won since Hungary last year, a run of 25 races without success during which time Vettel has won two championships and 14 grands prix.
Button, who won his title with Brawn and is now chasing his fourth win of the year with McLaren, was second fastest and a mere 0.014 slower on a dry and clear morning in Sao Paulo.
Team mate Lewis Hamilton, who won the 2008 crown at Interlagos and also has three victories in a troubled 2011 campaign, was third on the timesheets while Vettel was fourth.
The top four were split by 0.214 seconds.
Vettel won his second title in Japan with four races to spare and faces something of a dilemma as the season comes to a finish.
The 24-year-old German can take the outright record of 15 poles in a single season if he qualifies fastest on Saturday, but only one driver has won from pole position at Interlagos in the past decade.
Felipe Massa, twice a winner in front of his home crowd and celebrating his 100th start for Ferrari this weekend, was fifth fastest ahead of team mate Fernando Alonso.
Alonso, who won both of his titles with Renault at Interlagos, pulled over with an engine failure at the end of the session.
Czech driver Jan Charouz made his debut in Friday practice with the HRT team and was last on the timing screens.
Charouz, who replaced Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi for the session, was one of a handful of drivers in action who will not take part in Sunday’s race.
Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg, who started last year’s race on pole for Williams and is now Force India reserve, was eighth fastest.
France’s Romain Grosjean, a favourite for a race seat next year now that Poland’s Robert Kubica will not be ready for the season’s start, was in the Renault while compatriot Jean-Eric Vergne had a run with Toro Rosso.
Brazilian Luiz Razia was in the Team Lotus.
Friday, 25 November – Free Practice 1
|8||14||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:15.178||1.367||28|
|9||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:15.241||1.430||31|