While two sessions of wet weather may have proven inconclusive for the eleven teams preparing for the Brazilian Grand Prix, for one of the 25 drivers on show during the day, it provided another strand of experience.
Daniil Kvyat, the GP3 Series champion who will step up to replace Daniel Ricciardo at Toro Rosso next season, took over the Australian's car the first 90-minute practice session at Interlagos, completing 17 laps in tricky conditions. The Russian's best lap, timed at 1min 26.064secs was good enough to eighth place on the timesheets.
"It was a very positive experience, running in the wet,” he admitted, “I got a reasonable lap which was good enough for P8. Towards the end, we had to limit my track time a bit, doing fewer laps than would have been ideal, because, of course, we had to save tyres for the next session. I ran the intermediate tyre and, in a way, it was a shame it didn't rain harder so that I could have also experienced driving on the extreme rain tyres.”
Kvyat, who also drove in the opening session at last weekend's US Grand Prix in Austin, believed that he was gradually getting to grips with F1, and said he had enjoyed his first taste of the Autodromo Carlos Pace.
“This is a really nice and technical track and it seemed quite grippy today, which is good as this was the first time I ever drove a F1 car in the wet,” he reported, “Overall, with this morning, then last week in Austin and the running before that, I now have a lot of confidence in the car. I have got used to the power, I am getting used to the downforce and also the brakes.”
Kvyat's performance initially raised a few eyebrows, until it was revealed that team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne had had technical problems with STR8 during the morning session. The Frenchman, who remains as the Russian's partner in 2014, was down in 14th position on the timesheets, half a second off the newcomer, and admitted that he too was relieved to have the glitch uncovered.
“Usually, I am comfortable in the rain, but this morning the car didn't feel right and so, in a way, I was pleased to learn the team found that something was not quite right,” he confirmed, “It was fixed in time for this afternoon, when it all felt much better.
Such was the difference that Vergne was immediately more optimistic for the rest of the weekend.
“Given my lap time on quite worn intermediates, I think we are looking in reasonable shape,” he insisted, “I waited a while before going out because, with the limited number of extreme wet tyres, you have to think of saving them for the rest of the weekend. So it was a usual Friday in most respects, except that we didn't do so many laps, which is a shame on what is a lovely track to drive. We still need some work to do to improve the car further, but we have a good baseline to start from.”
Ricciardo returned to the cockpit of the #19 machine for the afternoon but, with the weather worsening, was unable to make much of an impression on the combined timesheets, despite posting the ninth-fastest lap of the session.
“I don't think only having the one session today affected me very much, even if we ran less than the 90 minutes because of the weather,” the Australian admitted, “I got a couple of runs, one on the extreme, the other on the inter, [and] it was still productive - even with the limited time.
“As always, we have some work to do, but I don't think we look too bad in these conditions. We need to improve grip in the rear to stabilise the car in for the wet. If we get on top of that tonight, we can have a good car for the rain and I am confident that if it stays like this, we can get two cars into Q3 tomorrow.”