LIVE COMMENTARY: 2012 BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX - SATURDAY PRACTICE
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As it happened: Saturday practice
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
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Hello everyone and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live as we continue with coverage and rolling updates from the final round of the 2012 FIA Formula 1 world championship - the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.
Sebastian Vettel versus Fernando Alonso is of course the headline act this weekend, but it was Lewis Hamilton who stole the show yesterday and boxed off both practice sessions with the fastest time. His lap of 1m14.026s in the afternoon edged out Vettel by over a quarter of a second, with Mark Webber third, Felipe Massa fourth and then Alonso 0.566s off the leading pace in sixth spot.
Hamilton leads the pack again in second practice
The teams have just 60 minutes of track time left to finalise the car setup and find the best balance for 4.309km circuit, while continuing work with both types of Pirelli tyre. Expect some fun and games when the medium tyres are bolted on and the drivers go for a qualifying simulation in the latter stages of the session.
For those of you who haven't been following the weather too closely this week, we are now moving into an unsettled period, as a cold front moves in from the south-west.
After a sunny start, clouds have already rolled in over Interlagos and it will turn overcast, but should remain dry for the upcoming session. Showers are expected this afternoon, but it is still on a knife-edge whether the rain will arrive before the end of qualifying.
Air temperature should peak at around 28 or 29 degrees Celsius and there is a light (becoming moderate at times) north-westerly breeze.
Pirelli's medium and hard compound sicks make their final outing of the season here at Interlagos, with teams facing far different conditions to the baking pair of practice sessions yesterday.
While overheating rubber was a concern in the strong sunshine, engineers should be pleased to see the far more overcast skies we have today.
With plenty of uncertainty in the forecast, teams will want to make the most of this final practice hour to get a flexible setup on the cars ahead of the parc ferme lockdown at the start of qualifying.
Vettel is already in his race car and eager to get today's programme of work underway.
Meteo France tells the teams that despite thickening clouds, no rain is expected yet.
Race control is mandating the blue headrest foam, which is designed for cooler conditions.
Track temperature is up at 36 degrees with an ambient of 28 Celsius as the green light shines.
The final practice session of 2012 is underway at Interlagos.
Vergne and Ricciardo are straight out onto the circuit, as the wind strength also begins to pick up significantly.
Plenty of cars underway already with Kovalainen, Perez, Grosjean, Glock and Pic in the early batch.
Karthikeyan, di Resta and Maldonado are also on track.
Hulkenberg and Webber are out next, followed by Senna. Only six drivers left in the pits.
A sense of urgency in the pitlane with the weather threatening.
Installation runs of course at this juncture and the early runners are piling into the pits after one checking lap.
De la Rosa and Vettel are on the circuit to make sure everything is okay.
Replays pick up Glock emerging from the pits over the painted exit line, which may bring the German to the attention of the stewards.
Michael Schumacher rolls out of the Mercedes garage and he too joins the circuit.
Alonso continues his installation effort, checking over the installation of race components in his Ferrari.
The remaining patches of blue sky have completely covered over now and it is overcast, as Vettel returns to the pits after one lap.
Vettel drives straight through the pitlane and rejoins the circuit.
Webber, Rosberg and Schumacher all continued across the line and into a second tour.
Replays show that Vettel appeared to throw something out of the cockpit towards the Red Bull garage as he drove past.
Button reports good grip on his initial lap thanks to the track still being reasonably warm.
Rosberg gets the party started with a time of 1m20.153s and Schumacher is there behind him with a time of 1m22.570s.
Meteo France informs the teams that there will be no rain in the next 30 minutes.
Rosberg continues on and his second timed lap is 1m15.308s.
Schumacher also completes a second timed lap and he moves ahead of his team-mate with 1m15.034s.
Vettel came back into the pits at the end of that second tour. He has been wheeled into the garage.
Kobayashi is now back on track in his Sauber as he continues his final weekend with the team.
With the exception of Mercedes, the teams are checking data following the installation runs.
Once the telemetry engineers are satisfied that all functions on the car are working properly, they will signal to each race engineer that they are clear to proceed with the scheduled programme.
Kobayashi's first time is a 1m15.527s, slotting in behind the Mercedes pair.
Perez, also exiting Sauber after this weekend, joins the track for his first run of the day.
Hamilton and Button set off for an early run in the McLarens, while both Marussias are also now on track.
Rosberg is still out there on a lengthy run. He comes through in 1m14.955s and moves back ahead of Schumacher.
Raikkonen is slowing with major smoke from his Lotus.
That looks like engine trouble for Raikkonen, who pulls off behind the barriers at the end of the back straight.
Raikkonen was on his first timed lap of the day before the smoky demise of his Renault engine.
Both Mercedes drivers have returned to the pits. Rosberg completed eight laps and Schumacher seven tours.
Race control warns of a slippery surface on the straight where Raikkonen's engine exploded.
Replays being fed in of Schumacher a couple of minutes ago, locking up heavily into the Senna S. He has been in the pits for some time.
Meanwhile, Hamilton springs to the top of the times with a 1m14.552s.
Hulkenberg completes his first timed lap of the pace in 1m19.834s, as he builds up his pace.
Button takes over the leading time with a new best of 1m14.419s.
Marshal sectors four and five are still reporting slippery conditions but drivers are not having too much trouble with any oil on the track.
Hulkenberg goes on for a second effort and moves up to fifth with a lap of 1m15.045s.
Vettel has joined the racetrack for his first meaningful run of the day.
Raikkonen, who lost practice time yesterday with a misfire, is heading back to the pits to sit out the remainder of the session.
Senna has locked up the left front reasonably heavily at the complex named after his uncle. He runs wide and rejoins via the run-off area.
With engines all at the limits of their life for the final event of the year, Raikkonen will have to reuse one of his other old motors.
Hulkenberg has continued to improve. He lies third behind the two McLaren drivers with a lap of 1m14.588s.
Meanwhile, Button's benchmark is now 1m13.917s as marshals declare the track clear of Raikkonen's oil.
Vettel completes his first timed lap and moves up to fourth spot with 1m14.588s - equal to Hulkenberg.
Maldonado pops up to sixth place with 1m14.814s, as Schumacher comes back out to begin his second run.
Grosjean, in the sole working Lotus, moves up to third fastest with a 1m14.575s lap, some six tenths off the McLaren pace.
Webber completes a building lap and lies 18th with 1m22.521s. He should go much quicker on the next lap.
Hamilton is potentially slowed by de la Rosa's HRT as he comes over the line a tenth down on team-mate Button.
Senna reports that he can feel a steering vibration with these tyres. Maybe try not to block them into Turn 1, perhaps?
Webber climbs up the order to sixth and di Resta follows him in to seventh spot, as they both improve their pace.
Alonso remains cool as a cucumber in the Ferrari pit, waiting for his typical late entry to the session.
Maldonado goes on for another attempt and he moves into third with 1m14.427s.
Hard tyres for Vettel here, as with the rest of the pack at this stage. He improves to third spot with 1m14.135s.
So it's Jenson Button leading the pack with McLaren team-mate Hamilton second. Vettel is 0.277s back in third, with Maldonado fourth.
Vettel improves again and splits the McLaren pair with a time of 1m13.924s.
Maldonado improves his time to 1m14.387s, but the Venezuelan remains in fourth position.
Alonso is finally on track for his first run on the hard rubber.
But Webber takes fourth off him with a time of 1m14.263s.
Faces of concentration on the Red Bull pit gantry, as Vettel comes back into the pits at the end of that run.
Many drivers are in the pits at the moment for engineers to look at the data collected on the first run, giving Alonso a fairly empty track.
Schumacher improves slightly and moves ahead of team-mate Rosberg into ninth position, with 1m14.878s.
Alonso joins the order in ninth with a 1m14.863s initial tour.
Massa improves to sixth fastest with a 1m14.401s lap, that's around half a second off Button's benchmark.
Button is back underway on his hard tyres after a front wing tweak in the McLaren garage.
Ricciardo is told that he will be going out on the same set of tyres for his next run. The Australian is currently 16th with 1m15.315s.
Alonso also moves forwards as his run continues, clocking 1m14.416s to go seventh.
Vettel remains in the car as routine work and set-up changes are carried out on the Red Bull by the mechanics.
Button continues to lead the pack with 1m13.858s, ahead of Vettel in second, Hamilton third, Massa fourth and Webber in fifth spot.
Alonso and Massa are close together on track and seem to be rehearsing a towing strategy that could be useful in in qualifying.
Maldonado is sixth in the Williams, while Alonso is seventh, 0.558s off the benchmark time.
While nose-to-tail, Massa has improved to fourth fastest with Alonso now in sixth.
Hulkenberg is back on the circuit for another run in the Force India. He is rounding out the top 10 and he's into a timed lap.
Di Resta exits the pits and sets off on another adventure. The Scot is eighth in the classification, one-tenth clear of his team-mate.
Button backs off to find space on this short circuit.
Webber heads out to begin another run, leaving Vettel in the garage just for the moment.
Vettel joins the racetrack around 30 seconds later and he's out for another run with just under 23 minutes of the session remaining.
Limited improvements on the second run with these hard tyres, indicating some degradation with the rubber getting past its best.
It's busy out there now with 19 drivers on track. Vettel crosses the line to start a timed lap.
Raikkonen is the only man not to set a time today after that engine failure, with the team still waiting to get the car back.
Medium compound tyres here for Schumacher on this run. Rosberg is also out there on the quicker rubber.
Vettel has completed two timed laps on this run, but with no improvement so far.
Bruno Senna has spun exiting Juncao and was almost collected by Schumacher.
Senna spin-turns the Williams and gets going again and comes into the pitlane.
Replays show that Senna ran wide powering out of the uphill left-hander. It's not often we see that. Schumacher completed the lap and improved to eighth with 1m14.403s.
Rosberg has also found time on the softer tyre. He is up to fifth with 1m14.126s.
Schumacher comes round again and registers another slight improvement. He is up to seventh with 1m14.347s.
Many drivers in the pits at the moment ahead of a late blast on the softer option tyres.
Only the Mercedes drivers using the medium compound for now, while the others gather their final data on used hard tyres.
Vettel and Webber return to the pits. Schumacher is also in after that short run on the medium compound.
Meteo France tells the teams that it will remain dry until the end of the session.
Rosberg pits to end his first run on the softer tyre and the circuit is empty for the time being.
Button leads the pack with a time of 1m13.858s. Vettel is second, just 0.066s down on the Briton, with Hamilton third.
Massa is fourth with Webber fifth, Rosberg sixth, Schumacher seventh and Alonso is down in eighth, 0.498s back.
Just under 11 minutes of the session remaining and it will soon become very busy as the medium tyre runs begin in earnest.
Raikkonen has found himself a chair out on the circuit where his Lotus expired and is watching the session from the sidelines.
Grosjean and Perez are among the early takers for the qualifying simulation.
Hulkenberg and Vergne are on track for their qualifying simulation run.
Di Resta joins them on track, while the big hitters are prepared to wait just a little longer.
Button is heading out on medium rubber, as is Alonso.
Expect some complaints over traffic here, with the whole field trying to find space for a flying attempt.
Vergne improves to 16th place in the Toro Rosso with a lap of 1m15.108s.
Webber and Rosberg are on track and Vettel is heading out now.
Hulkenberg blasts round on medium compound tyres and takes over at the top with 1m13.623s.
Button is looking quick on his first flyer with the medium rubber.
Di Resta follows his team-mate to the top spot with a time of 1m13.617s.
Button cements his benchmark at a 1m13.192s, finding a good improvement on the softer tyres.
Grosjean goes second fastest for the moment, two tenths off Button's best.
Webber is well into his first timed lap on the medium tyre, as Vettel starts his first attempt.
Alonso heads Massa across the line, with the Brazilian taking the benefit of the tow to go fifth fastest.
Slight oversteer for Webber exiting the Bico do Pato but he maintains control and comes towards the end of the lap.
Hamilton is slow on his initial attempt on the mediums.
Webber moves up to second spot with a time of 1m13.385s.
Vettel is slow in the first sector so this lap will not be anything special.
Perez follows Hamilton over the line and ends up 11th.
Hamilton is pushing on for his next flying attempt but is now catching Webber's Red Bull.
Button comes around slightly slower than his best as Hamilton follows Webber over the line to go fifth fastest.
Di Resta pushes on and gets a second lap out of the softer tyre. He improves with a time of 1m13.515s and lies fourth.
Vettel has aborted his run and comes into the pits.
Hulkenberg improves slightly on his medium tyres but remains in sixth with a time of 1m13.602s.
Alonso has pulled away from Massa and is now lapping in clear air.
Only 2m30s left and Vettel is still in the garage.
Vettel comes out and will get just one crack at a lap time.
Alonso pits as Button finds more speed in the medium rubber to go faster than his previous best in the first sector.
Button heads the pack for now with Webber second, Grosjean third, di Resta fourth, Hamilton fifth and Hulkenberg sixth.
Fractional improvement for Button there with a new session-topper of 1m13.188s.
Alonso is only seventh, with Maldonado eighth, Massa ninth and Vettel starts a timed lap in 10th.
Alonso, currently seventh, is back in the Ferrari garage.
Replays of Schumacher a few moments ago locking up heavily into the Senna S. He continued and lies in 15th position.
The flag is out on the final practice session of the season.
Vettel is setting personal best sectors on his one and only shot on this tyre against the clock.
Vettel completes the tour and moves into second place with a time of 1m13.245s.
Hamilton finds late improvement to go fourth fastest, two tenths off Button's benchmark.
So Jenson Button tops final practice at Interlagos with a lap of 1m13.188s, 0.057s clear of Vettel, with Webber third.
Hamilton ends the session in fourth spot, ahead of Grosjean fifth and di Resta in sixth. The top six are covered by 0.298s.
Hulkenberg is seventh in the second Force India entry, with championship challenger Alonso down in eighth, 0.503s off the pace.
Maldonado finishes the morning in ninth place in the Williams and Massa rounds out the top 10 in front of his home crowd.
It's looking tight at the top between McLaren and Red Bull, but Ferrari has work to do. Join us later for qualifying from Interlagos.
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Friday 23 Nov
Friday practice one
Friday practice two
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The Brazilian Grand Prix
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