On a morning that saw the bulk of the field test the new 2013 Pirelli tyres, Lewis Hamilton set the pace ahead of Sebastian Vettel in FP1 for the Brazilian GP.
As the sun baked down on the Interlagos circuit, Formula One began its farewell to 2012 with Williams test driver - and possible 2013 race driver - Valtteri Bottas clocking a 1:21.218. It was Sergio Perez, though, who put in the first competitive time as he posted a 1:17.750 using the new prototype Pirelli tyres for next season.
Perez continued lapping, lowering the benchmark to a 1:15.869 before Lewis Hamilton easily beat him by over a second despite it being the McLaren driver's first timed lap. But while Hamilton was putting in the miles - and at pace - his team-mate Jenson Button was in the pits as his mechanics worked on the front left of his MP4-27.
Hamilton, running the 2013 Pirelli development tyres, stayed out on track, taking tenths off his time lap after lap as he lowered it to be a 1:14.131. Hamilton, though, did report that "these tyres are overheating."
While more drivers headed out on the development tyres, Sebastian Vettel climbed to second, Jenson Button to third and Felipe Massa to fourth. Fernando Alonso remained in the Ferrari garage looking very relaxed.
The Spaniard ventured out just after the 30 minute mark and was the first of the frontrunners to use this year's hard tyres. He climbed to fourth before others switched over. Hamilton failed to improve his best from the prototype tyres and, worryingly so for McLaren, again complained of overheating. Vettel, though, did improve but stayed second while Button was another who couldn't go quicker on this year's hard tyres.
Kimi Raikkonen headed out after being stuck in the pits following a brief three-lap run during which Lotus discovered an engine problem. However, after just one lap he was back in the pits as "we still have the engine problem."
The final 30 minutes saw Webber improve to third place, which meant the top four, Hamilton, Vettel, Webber and Button were separated by just 0.086s. Alonso, who swapped to the development tyres late in the session, closed to within three-tenths of Hamilton but remained fifth ahead of Massa, Romain Grosjean and Paul di Resta.
01 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:14.131 33 laps
02 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:14.140 0.009 35 laps
03 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:14.198 0.067 34 laps
04 Jenson Button McLaren 1:14.217 0.086 31 laps
05 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:14.392 0.261 28 laps
06 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:14.716 0.585 29 laps
07 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:14.719 0.588 33 laps
08 Paul di Resta Force India 1:14.738 0.607 34 laps
09 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:15.015 0.884 37 laps
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:15.050 0.919 32 laps
11 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:15.114 0.983 36 laps
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:15.255 1.124 31 laps
13 Sergio Perez Sauber 1:15.396 1.265 32 laps
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:15.413 1.282 23 laps
15 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:15.587 1.456 35 laps
16 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:15.701 1.570 16 laps
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:16.048 1.917 35 laps
18 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:16.315 2.184 36 laps
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:16.460 2.329 32 laps
20 Timo Glock Marussia 1:16.506 2.375 31 laps
21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1:16.617 2.486 30 laps
22 Charles Pic Marussia 1:17.234 3.103 26 laps
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1:17.678 3.547 15 laps
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1:17.895 3.764 13 laps