Once again, it was Lewis Hamilton out on top for the second practice session on Friday. He lead teammate Nico Rosberg to the chequered flag as teams focus on long runs for the race on Sunday.
The Brit’s fastest time was a 1:12.271, 0.030 seconds clear of Championship rival Rosberg. The pair will be battling close all weekend as a thrid consecutive Brazilian victory for Rosberg will see him take the 2016 Driver’s Championship. The pair were a lot closer in the second practice session today and with changing weather conditions and some predicted rain showers the weekend could end up going either of their way.
It was Williams who was closest to Mercedes in the afternoon session. Valtteri Bottas was third by about half a second, with his teammate Felipe Massa behind him by a few thousandths of a second. For the Williams crew, still in close contention with Force India for fourth in the Constructor’s Championship, a strong performance is needed this weekend to close in the 8 point lead Force India currently hold for fourth.
Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen continued the tread of two-by-two as he finished fifth. He was 0.557 seconds off the pace set by Hamilton and a tenth up on his teammate. The top eight were rounded off by another team as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ended ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Nico Hulkenberg broke the trend, finishing a second off the pace in ninth whilst his teammate Sergio Perez could do no better than 14th.
It was McLaren’s Jenson Button who rounded off the top ten, but the afternoon session held nothing but problems for the Woking-based team. Both Button and teammate Fernando Alonso – who finished 11th fastest – failed to complete the full 90 minutes of running. Button’s session ended with only 19 laps on the board with an unconfirmed issue.
An ERS water pressure problem forced Alonso to stop out on track. He completed only 18 laps of running before the team instructed him to pull over and stop the car. Slightly stranded on the outside of the track – just as he had been this time last year for the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying – Alonso took to entertain himself by watching the cars on track, playing ‘keepy uppy’ with the gravel stone on the outside of the track, and comondeering a track camera.
The FOM showed a snippet of the footage Alonso tried to capture, making it very clear the McLaren driver should not give up his day job. The joke was on as the revival of the “Places Alonso Would Rather Be” hashtag resurfaced after the Spaniard found himself another deckchair to take a seat in.
In the battle of the Toro Rosso’s is was Daniil Kvyat who was faster in the afternoon session. He outpaced Carlos Sainz Jr by just over a tenths for 12th place, whilst the young Spaniard settled for 13th.
SAinz had an early wheel-to-wheel battle on track with Raikkonen, with the Finn ending the feud by passing the Toro Rosso only to cut in front of it to dive into the pits. The move seemed fairly unnecesary from the Finn. The stewards are investigating the case to see if any penalties should be handed out. On a day where Ferrari are challenging the ruling of a ten-second penalty after the Mexican Grand Prix for Sebastian Vettel they could find themselves spending most of the evening in the steward’s office.