Brazil FP1: Ferrari fastest, but rivals haven’t shown their cards

Ferrari begins the weekend in Brazil with the first and second halves, with Carlos Sainz ahead of Charles Leclerc. The feedback could be positive, but none of their rivals set any references with the Soft compound

Only Oscar Piastri gave some indications, without closing the lap, showing a competitive McLaren. George Russell‘s time was important, just over a tenth behind the two Reds, set first and on Medium tyres. Focus on race pace for Red Bull and McLaren, who remain at the bottom of the standings.

Only Haas with updates. Aston Martin continues its moment of technical difficulty. Different choices for Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull

In terms of updates, Brazil doesn’t offer much. The time for the development of these cars is over, except for minimal modifications – such as those introduced by Haas at Interlagos. A minimal change to the front wing flap area. No news for the other teams. 

We can point out the medium-high load conformations adopted by Ferrari, with the more unloaded bi-plane beam wing, compared to a more loaded choice of Mercedes.

Aston Martin, on the other hand, confirms a moment of technical confusion and difficulty, with choices regarding the bottom and diffuser specifications increasingly directed towards old specifications despite the many new features introduced this season.

FP1: Ferrari is the only top team to use the Soft tyre. McLaren and Mercedes focus on race pace with Hard tyre

Only one practice session for teams this weekend. Only 60 minutes were available for teams to optimise their set-up before the enforcement of parc ferme conditions.

When the lights went out, almost everyone went out on the hard tyres. Max Verstappen has the usual approach of immediately imposing his pace, setting the fastest time and giving his teammate a clear second on the first flying lap.

The teams, even on the same tyre, have different approaches, more decisive or more progressive in the search for a time, thus getting closer to the Dutchman’s reference time.

The first run on Hard tires ends with Max Verstappen at the top of the time list, closed to +0.025 by his teammate. Behind them were the two Mercedes and then the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. Hulkenberg, Alonso, Sainz and the two McLarens close the top team by less than seven-tenths.

The first to beat the Dutchman’s time was Yuki Tsunoda, using medium tires and setting a time of 1.12.802. Both Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso returned to the track with Hard tires, and both beat the Japanese’s time.

For the Spaniards, it was a new set of Hards, while for the Dutch, it was the same one used before. It is so easy for the Aston Martin driver to do better than Verstappen.

Faster than them, thanks also to the Medium compound, is George Russell in 1.11.865.

Haas is the first team to choose to use the Soft compound with less than 30 minutes to goKevin Magnussen sets a time that puts him eight-tenths of a second behind George Russell’s time.

There was also a collision on the track, without major consequences, between Nico Hulkenberg and Lando Norris, with a small collision between them at the last corner of the circuit.

After this, the German moves up to second place in the rankings, +0.063 behind the Englishman from Mercedes.

Some teams, such as Ferrari and Aston Martin, return to the track with Hard tires for a race pace simulation. It also follows McLaren, as well as Alpine and AlphaTauri.

Given the short time available, the teams need to compact the work program, paying attention to the performances on the flying lap but also to those over the long distance, both for the Sprint Race and Sunday’s race.

Alexander Albon on the soft tire moves to within two-tenths of Russell, but the feedback from Lance Stroll, with Media, is positive, at +0.271 from the direct comparison – even if made a few minutes late – with George Russell.

The teams continue to be ‘out of sync’ with their respective work plans and compound choices. Oscar Piastri was going fastest with the softs before deciding to stop before finishing his attempt. 

The last minutes of the session saw drivers on track with Hard, Medium and Soft tyres, making it difficult to analyze the entire situation on the track.

With 5 minutes to go, the two Ferraris with Soft tires return to the track for their attempt at the fastest lap. Carlos Sainz immediately took the top spot in the rankings in 1.11.732, while Charles Leclerc postponed his attempt until the second lap, aborting his previous lap already in the first sector.

With a better last sector, the Monegasque moved within a tenth of his teammate’s reference.

Russell’s time persists in third place on the medium tyre. The most important finding of the two drivers is the understeer suffered mainly in the first sector.

Author: Paolo D’Alessandro

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang