Nico Rosberg’s early time proved to be unbeatable in Friday’s first practice for the Brazilian GP as more rain later in the session put an end to a dry line.
Although at the start of FP1 it is usually left to the backmarkers to do the early running, this Friday it was Jenson Button, Rosberg and Sergio Perez who clocked the first times with the Brit’s 1:25.391 leading the way before Rosberg edged ahead with a 1:24.781.
While the German was putting in a pace-setting time, his team-mate Lewis Hamilton was all over the place and eventually had a gentle – but lengthy – spin at Turn 3 that saw him finish facing the wrong way. He kept the engine running and was able to continue.
The Mercedes driver, though, was not the only one struggling to keep all four wheels on the track as several drivers had minor offs although all avoided damaging their cars.
Back in the action, the track started to dry out after the first 30 minutes putting everyone on the intermediate tyres. However before any times could improve a few more drops of rain fell.
That didn’t stop Sebastian Vettel from putting in a few laps on the prototype hard Pirelli tyres as he gathered data for Red Bull. The German didn’t attempt a time on those tyres, pitting after each lap. Vettel and Mark Webber were the only drivers with 40 minutes remaining who had yet to set times.
As more rain came down the bulk of the field headed back into the pits although with the rain then letting up with 20 minutes to go teams slowly made their way back out.
Vettel was the big improver in the latter stages as he climbed from 12th to third, however, the German could do nothing to prevent the session finishing with a Mercedes 1-2 with Rosberg ahead of Hamilton.
Button finished fourth quickest ahead of Alonso, Webber, Perez and STR test driver and 2014 racer Daniil Kvyat.
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.781 14 laps
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.230 +0.449 13 laps
03 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:25.387 +0.606 17 laps
04 Jenson Button McLaren 1:25.391 +0.610 24 laps
05 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:25.593 +0.812 13 laps
06 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:25.797 +1.016 17 laps
07 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:25.946 +1.165 15 laps
08 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:26.064 +1.283 17 laps
09 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:26.133 +1.352 30 laps
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:26.232 +1.451 17 laps
11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:26.248 +1.467 15 laps
12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:26.326 +1.545 28 laps
13 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:26.570 +1.789 28 laps
14 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:26.593 +1.812 22 laps
15 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:27.115 +2.334 25 laps
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:27.269 +2.488 23 laps
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:27.358 +2.577 23 laps
18 James Calado Force India 1:27.436 +2.655 9 laps
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:28.107 +3.326 18 laps
20 Charles Pic Caterham 1:28.199 +3.418 17 laps
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:30.004 +5.223 24 laps
22 Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia 1:32.646 +7.865 19 laps