Sahara Force India gave Daniel Juncadella his third free practice outing of the season in Brazil, but a crash for the Spanish driver meant that regular driver Sergio Perez was forced to miss the second session on Friday.
Juncadella had already spun earlier in the session on the new low-grip track surface that caught out a few drivers, but ran wide at turn eight and hit the barriers head on, causing the session to be red flagged. A resultant heat-soak issue with the car’s engine meant Perez was unable to get on track in the afternoon.
“It’s always good to be back in the car, but it’s a shame to end the session with an accident,” reflected Juncadella. “It was the strangest crash I ever had and I was not expecting it at all. The track was evolving very quickly because there is new asphalt and there was only one racing line with grip.
“On that lap I went a bit wider on the kerb, which was a bit too optimistic because I had a moment and had to catch the car. There was no room in the run-off area so I damaged the front of the car.
“I’ve apologised to the team and I’m sorry that it caused Sergio to miss track time, but hopefully he can still have a strong weekend.”
Perez was naturally disappointed to miss out on running on Friday, and has only the one-hour session on Saturday morning to work on the set-up on his car ahead of qualifying, although the Mexican will drop seven places on the grid after his crash in Austin last weekend with Adrian Sutil.
“It’s disappointing not to run today and what happened with Daniel is bad luck,” said Perez. “This is how things are in Formula One and sometimes you just have to accept that it’s not going to be your day. Final practice will be even more important now but hopefully I can get up-to-speed before qualifying.”
With Juncadella crashing in the morning and Perez being unable to run in the afternoon, it was left to Nico Hulkenberg to do the majority of the running, and the German driver, who took pole position at this circuit whilst driving for Williams back in 2010, thought it was a straightforward day, although the hotter than expected temperatures made getting both compounds of Pirelli tyre to work a challenge.
“Most forecasts said it would be cloudy and wet, but the opposite was the case and it was very hot and sunny,” said Hulkenberg. “We even saw track temperatures of 58ºC, which made it a challenge to manage both tyre compounds this afternoon. It might be cooler over the weekend, so we need to be careful about what conclusions we make tonight and the approach we take tomorrow.
“Apart from that it was a pretty straightforward Friday on my side of the garage and we just need to make the usual performance tweaks overnight.”