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2013 Brazil GP: Practice and preview

2013-11-22 21:47

FERRARI'S FELIPE MASSA: There'll be a heavy weight of history on his shoulders when he lines up for the 2013 Brazilian F1 GP on Sunday. Image: AFP

SAO PAULO, Brazil - The honour of bringing down the curtain on the 2013 Formula 1 season on Sunday falls, as it has been since 2006, to Brazil but the host nation has endured a season of little cheer.

That trend looks set to continue.

Sole standard bearer Felipe Massa will attempt to sign off his eight years at Ferrari with a win watched by 70 000 fans at Interlagos but the domination of other nations is only too apparent, a punch in the gut for fans demanding the recapture of a glorious past, now sepia-tinted but comprising titles brought home by Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna and Emerson Fittipaldi.


The highs of the glory years, a two-decade stretch that included three titles each for Senna and Piquet and two for Fittipaldi, seemed a long way off on Friday as Massa, eighth in the standings, seeks a final Ferrari flourish before switching to Williams.

Massa finished 11th and seventh respectively in the first and second practice sessions at Interlagos on Friday.

Senna completed his hat trick with McLaren in 1991, three years before his fatal accident at the San Marino GP.

With his passing, some of the soul seemed to seep out of Brazilian racing, entering first an era dominated by Michael Schumacher and now another by Sebastian Vettel.

Massa agonisingly came within a lap of denying Lewis Hamilton the 2008 title in the most dramatic of climaxes at Interlagos while Rubens Barrichello also finished runner-up twice.


Nelson Piquet jnr proved a disappointment and moved to Nascar, where he remains five years after the Renault crashgate scandal in Singapore. High hopes were placed on the shoulders of Senna's nephew Bruno Senna when he started at Hispania Racing in 2010 but spells at Renault and Williams were unspectacular - and he was dropped in November 2012 in favour of Finnish rookie Valtteri Bottas.

Massa has vowed to drag the spotlight - for a day at least - off Vettel, who has crushed the opposition with 12 victories and his fourth consecutive F1 title.

He said on Thursday: "It will be very emotional racing at Interlagos for Ferrari for the final time. Just competing in the Brazilian GP is a dream for all Brazilian racing drivers.

"We know how important Brazil is in F1. We have motor racing in the blood. It is very important to keep Brazilian drivers in F1. Winning here in 2006, in my first year with Ferrari, was the most incredible race of my life. For a Brazilian to win this race, it's like winning a World title."

Interlagos has been the scene of some thrilling denouements, not least Hamilton taking the title by the skin of his teeth in 2008, passing Timo Glock at the death to secure fifth place and the points needed to deny Massa the season’s crown.


Sao Paulo local favourite Emerson Fittipaldi won in 1973 and again in 1974 before fellow local Carlos Pace took the plaudits in a Brabham in 1975 - the circuit bears the official name of Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in his honour to mark the only career win of a man killed in a plane air crash two years later.

Piquet won in 1983 and 1986 to provide local cheer but Senna lost out to Alain Prost at a revamped Interlagos in 1990 after hitting back-marker Satoru Nakajima to concede the lead.

In one of the most emotional climaxes at any race, Senna won a rain-hit 1991 epic in a McLaren, crossing the line so exhausted he could hardly get out of his car to lift the trophy. The man who defined a generation for race fans here won again in 1993.

Rubens Barrichello led briefly in the 1999 edition but engine failure denied him and it was not until Massa closed out Alonso in 2006, when the race was rescheduled to be the prestigious season finale, that the drought stretching back to Senna ended.


If Massa, who hasn't looked capable of winning a race all season, does fail to make it a hat trick of wins at Interlagos, it is hard to see from where the next home winner could come.

Perhaps the best hope, though for some time in the future, is 21-year-old Felipe Nasr who has enjoyed a solid season in GP2 with the Carlin team and won the British F3 championship in 2011.

Stay with Wheels24 for the Brazil F1 GP weekend

Lap times from first free practice on Friday ahead of the 2013 Brazilian F1 GP:
1 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min24.781
2 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min25.230
3 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min25.387
4 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min25.391
5 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min25.593
6 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min25.797
7 Sergio Perez (Mexico) McLaren 1min25.946
8 Danill Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso 1min26.064
9 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Lotus 1min26.133
10 Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Sauber 1min26.232
11 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min26.248
12 Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber 1min26.326
13 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min26.570
14 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min26.593
15 Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India 1min27.115
16 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 1min27.269
17 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min27.358
18 James Calado (Britain) Force India 1min27.436
19 Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham 1min28.107
20 Charles Pic (France) Caterham 1min28.199
21 Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia 1min30.004
22 Rodolfo Gonzalez (Venezuela) Marussia 1min32.646

Lap times from second free practice on Friday ahead of the 2013 Brazilian F1 GP
1 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min27.306
2 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min27.531
3 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min27.592
4 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Lotus 1min28.129
5 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min28.147
6 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min28.405
7 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min28.540
8 Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Sauber 1min28.560
9 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min28.739
10 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min28.891
11 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min28.928
12 Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber 1min29.049
13 Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 1min29.174
14 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min29.717
15 Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India 1min29.783
16 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 1min30.425
17 Sergio Perez (Mexico) McLaren 1min30.748
18 Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia 1min31.061
19 Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham 1min31.118
20 Charles Pic (France) Caterham 1min31.165
21 Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia 1min31.211
22 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min31.77

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