Nico Rosberg may be on a high after finally breaking his F1 victory drought at the Mexican Grand Prix, but he won't be lulled into anticipation of another despite out-pacing Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by nearly half a second in practice for this weekend's Brazilian round.
Having played second fiddle to the Briton in FP1 – remarkably, the first Friday morning session Hamilton had paced since Monza – Rosberg reversed their roles after lunch and, despite an off that took him a long way across the grass on the return leg of the lap, posted a 1m 12.385s lap that proved good enough to keep him at the top of the standings for much of the 90-minute session.
However, even though his nemesis was a comparatively long way back in second spot, having clocked 1m 12.843s, the German was taking nothing for granted, knowing that there had to be a good reason for his advantage.
“It was a good start to the weekend,” Rosberg reported, “but the gap to Lewis is definitely not the real picture because he got his engine settings wrong and there is a big lap time in that. However, it is a decent beginning and I'm still getting a hang of the track and the car, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”
Despite F1's long association with Interlagos, changes to the track ahead of this year's grand prix, and wear and tear caused by the recent WEC round there, have given the grand prix drivers something extra to think about this weekend.
“It's always a challenge to adapt to a new circuit, and especially this one which is completely different somehow to last year,” Rosberg confirmed, “They've changed the kerbs a lot so, now, we can't attack them the way we did last year - we have to drive round them which costs a lot of lap time. Also the sportscars broke up the asphalt in places, and it's really crumbling in some corners. Going through those corners where the asphalt has broken up, you just lose all the grip, so we had to be creative today and find some new lines and some new ways of attacking the corners. It was an interesting day.”
If the gap back to Hamilton is something of a mirage, Rosberg also admitted to being wary of Mercedes' rivals, despite the closest, Sebastian Vettel, being nearly a second off his pace.
“There's always a threat from Ferrari, so we're keeping an eye on them,” he insisted, “In general though, today was a good day for us over one lap and on long runs also.”