PERSISTENT rain emerged the victor on Formula 1’s final Friday practice session of the season, last night with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg quickest thanks to his time set early in the day.
Rosberg’s lap of one minute 24.781secs – around an Interlagos circuit regarded as one of the finest in the world – was posted when the conditions were at their optimum, and even then that was a damp track.
Compare that to the best practice time of 1:13.188secs of a year ago from eventual Brazilian Grand Prix winner Jenson Button in his McLaren and it offers up an idea as to the stark difference in settings.
Throughout the opening 90 minutes the conditions ensured that even come the closing 20 minutes, when the rain finally relented, the track was still wet enough that Rosberg’s time would not be beaten.
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton finished within half a second, and world champion Sebastian Vettel was six tenths of a second adrift.
It would appear the rain is the only factor that could scupper the 26-year-old German’s bid to equal a further two records tomorrow. Vettel can match the 60-year-old mark of nine consecutive victories set by Alberto Ascari, along with Michael Schumacher’s 2004 haul of 13 wins in one season.
However, the forecast for today and tomorrow makes for grim reading, which will at least offer up the prospect of a thriller to finish the campaign following Vettel’s recent run of dominance. So far this season there has yet to be a wet race, but that is poised to change and allow F1 to potentially sign off for 2013 in style.
With the leading times in FP1 set on the intermediate wet-weather tyres, further rain throughout the afternoon resulted in the drivers switching to full wets in FP2 to cope with the worsening conditions.
At one stage, with 40 minutes remaining, 12 of the 22 drivers had not set foot outside the garage.