Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the second practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix, going two-hundredths faster than his teammate Charles Leclerc. The two Ferrari’s set there fastest laps on the medium tyres, which left them a tenth ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
The four-times champion set the pace on the mediums, before struggling when the team switched to the soft tyres. Vettel appeared initially struggled to improve after hitting traffic on his first quick lap. This allowed Leclerc to move into the lead with a lap of 09.238 before Vettel reclaimed top spot with a time of 09.217.
The first session in the dry gave Ferrari the upper hand as Vettel’s lap was a tenth ahead of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. The Dutchman was a tenth off and lost time in the final sector which requires power but leads the pack in the twisting middle sector.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest a tenth and a half ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. However, the five-times champion only managed one clean lap after being forced to abort two laps. Hamilton aborted at the first corner after going deep then having to go off track to avoid Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso, which was attempting to let him past.
Bottas also hindered one of Vettel’s laps, although the German was able to set the pace on a later attempt and edge out Leclerc by 0.021s.
Going into the weekend Ferrari were looking to prove that the ruling, one governing the operation of the hybrid system and fuel-flow meter, and the other the addition of oil into the combustion chamber – have any effect on the running of their engine.
They said they would be back to their normal form in Brazil after a disappointing race in the Austin, and at least on Friday, they look to be favourites for pole position on Saturday.
Kevin Magnussen was a surprise sixth, Haas tends to go better in cooler conditions going half a hundred faster than the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo. While the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen was eighth, he briefly was fifth.
For Gasly his session came to an end with an engine failure, he pulled over with smoke emerging from the rear of the car. The Frenchman confirmed it was an engine problem over the radio, with the virtual safety car being deployed.
Alex Albon struggled with his pace on the tyres, although when he switched to the soft tyres making a small improvement going ninth. The British-Thai finished the session ahead of Carlos Sainz in tenth. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was eleventh ahead of Gasly.
Antonio Giovinazzi was thirteenth going five thousandths faster than the second Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat. The Russian brought the session to an early conclusion, it is believed an engine issue causing him to slid into the barrier with the right-rear corner at the Juncao left-hander when the rears locked up thanks to an apparent engine problem.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was fifteenth over a second faster than teammate Lance Stroll, the duo was separated by the second Haas of Romain Grosjean. McLaren’s Lando Norris was almost a second and a half of the pace.
George Russell was nineteenth slowest of the Williams driver the last driver to set a time after Robert Kubica crashed. The Polish driver lost the rear through Turn Three, only to fire the car the other way and into the outside barrier, bringing his session to an end and leading to a seven-minute red flag.