After being eclipsed by Lewis Hamilton in the opening practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg this afternoon responded to beat the Briton by a similar margin to that which Hamilton had held in the morning.
The Mercedes drivers pace at the top of the order was good enough to establish a clear advantage over their rivals, with Rosberg’s lap being almost a second ahead of nearest challenger, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The session began with drops of rain falling in the pit lane but it was never enough to prompt teams to move away from slick tyres and in the early running on the medium tyres it was Hamilton who held sway, the Briton taking P1 with a lap of 1:13.947, 0.159s faster than Rosberg, with Vettel third ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.
With half an hour on the clock, Fernando Alonso was the first to take on the soft tyre, but the McLaren driver’s time on the option tyre was short. He quickly reported that he was suffering with “power problems” and with smoke coming from the back of his car he was told to pull over and stop.
With the stricken McLaren stopped at the edge of the circuit the red flags appeared and the session halted.
When the action resumed the Mercedes drivers were swiftly out on track on the soft tyre and Hamilton jumped to the top of the order with a time of 1:12.843s. His lap was quickly bettered by Rosberg, however, whose lap of 1:12.385 served as the afternoon’s best.
Vettel followed by could only get to a time 0.960s behind Rosberg, with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen fourth. The Finn had finished well behind Vettel in the morning following a spin, but in the afternoon he closed to within two tenths of a second.
Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull Racing ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, with Romain Grosjean seventh for Lotus. Eighth place went to Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and the final top ten slots were taken by Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat and the second Williams of Felipe Massa.
While Mercedes enjoyed a solids gap to their rivals, the times were a lot tighter elsewhere across the order and on the short 4.3km Interlagos circuit just over four tenths of a second separated Vettel in third from tenth-placed Massa.
2015 Brazilian Grand Prix – Free Practice 21 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:12.385 422 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.843 +0.458 393 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.345 +0.960 414 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:13.500 +1.115 435 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:13.585 +1.200 396 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:13.603 +1.218 377 Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team 1:13.634 +1.249 458 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:13.710 +1.325 439 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:13.848 +1.463 4010 Felipe Massa Williams 1:13.870 +1.485 4211 Sergio Perez Force India 1:14.056 +1.671 3412 Pastor Maldonado Lotus F1 Team 1:14.124 +1.739 4213 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:14.134 +1.749 4414 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:14.226 +1.841 3515 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 1:14.326 +1.941 4516 Jenson Button McLaren 1:14.644 +2.259 3717 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:14.772 +2.387 3818 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:15.129 +2.744 1019 Will Stevens Manor 1:16.501 +4.116 3520 Alexander Rossi Manor 1:16.787 +4.402 35