Political manoeuvring behind the scenes overshadowed the on-track action during free practice one and two in Brazil with disputes over contracts and financial concerns filtering through the paddock.
The sad news that Marussia have ceased trading came on Friday morning and Caterham, who were not at the race last week in Austin or at Brazil, are launching a crowd funding scheme to raise £2.3 million in an attempt to escape the same fate.
Meanwhile at Sauber the financial pressure has not stopped them from taking to the track but has appeared to have influenced who will be driving for them next year with reports that Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson and Williams reserve driver Felipe Nasr will be replacing Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil. Sutil has alluded to the fact that he still has a two year contract and could therefore have a challenge to the announcement, Sauber’s reserve driver Giedo Van de Garde also claims to have believed he would be contracted for a race seat next year, however it would appear that the vast funding of Felipe Nasr is sorely needed at Sauber due to the financial pressures of the sport at the moment.
A driver change at McLaren also appears imminent as Jenson Button has announced that he is considering other career avenues than Formula One with the expectant news that Fernando Alonso will replace him at McLaren after a disappointing season at Ferrari.
As the politics played out behind the scenes on track the action was shattered as a series of red flag incidents interrupted both sessions.
The problems started early for Jenson Button when his Mclaren pulled over to the side of the pit lane exit with an issue that did not allow him to go out for the rest of Free practice one.
As is tradition in Free practice one a number of new faces were seen on the grid with Jundacella in Sergio Perez’s Force India and Max Verstappen, who has a Torro Rosso set for next year. in Jean Eric Vergnes car.
Unfortunately the new boys encountered some issues around the classically challenging track with Jundacella going off into the tyre barriers of Curva Da Laranjinha causing the first red flag with just 28 minutes on the track. Then after the session restarted Max Verstappen suffered from a severe front tyre lock up and ran wide through the Senna Esses.
After Free practice one a virtual safety car was tested, with all cars being given a set delta time in which to return to the pits and a new practice of two drivers coming in to perform a pit stop.
Rosberg headed Hamilton on the leader board, breaking Hamilton’s run of perfect practices faster by 0.221 seconds.
In Free practice two the red flags came thick and fast with Jean Eric Vergne stopping on Descida do Lago with over an hour and fifteen minutes left on the clock.
Then an issue appeared to be hampering Fernando Alonso’s progress throughout the session ending in an apparent engine failure which caused flames to engulf the Ferrari and cause Alonso to change from Formula One driver to fireman as he ran to put it out.
Free Practice One
Free Practice Two
1 ROSBERG MERCEDES 1:12.123