The Williams Martini Racing team had a good day at Interlagos, with Felipe Massa finishing inside the top six in both free practice sessions, while Valtteri Bottas was fifth in session two after missing the first session to allow Felipe Nasr a run in front of his home fans.
After admitting he gets extra motivation from his fans while racing at his home track ahead of the weekend, Massa felt the team are in a good position early on after finishing fifth and sixth in the two practice sessions, but feels they will still need to improve further to be in with a shout of a good qualifying result on Saturday afternoon.
“Today was about understanding the car and its balance on the new asphalt,” insisted Massa. “The grip was actually pretty good and felt better than it has been in recent years, but because it is brand new, quite dirty and the temperatures were very high, it was difficult to get a real understanding of the car’s balance on the long runs.
“The car is feeling pretty good so we are starting from a good base, and as the track keeps improving I hope we can follow that progression with the handling to make sure we are in the hunt for tomorrow’s qualifying.”
Bottas missed first practice but was fifth fastest in the second session, but feels there is still work to be done to get the set-up of the car to his liking. He also believes the tyres are lasting longer in 2014 than last year due to the new asphalt surface on the Interlagos track.
“It was an interesting day; the track felt quite different with the new surface but it seemed to have a decent amount of grip and was cleaning up quickly,” said Bottas. “There was a bit of graining on the option tyres but not nothing major and they seemed to be lasting better than last year because of the smoother track surface.
“We still have work to do with the car balance but the initial feeling is pretty good. In dry conditions we seem competitive and on the pace, but the weather is looking very variable over the weekend so we need to be good at adapting to it.”
The team gave newly-confirmed 2015 Sauber F1 Team driver Felipe Nasr the opportunity to run in first practice in front of his home fans, and felt the track was tricky first up with the new asphalt giving very little grip.
“The track has a new surface so there was quite low grip available at the beginning of the session,” said Nasr. “But as normal it started to improve and on the whole I think the car is looking good around this circuit so the team should be optimistic that it can have a good weekend.
“The medium compound tyres were lasting fine, but the softer compound were not lasting very long and you could only get one big lap from them, so making sure you look after the tyres will be very important this weekend.”