Rosberg responds to lead second Brazilian GP practice

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Nico Rosberg responded to the pace shown by Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in FP1 by topping the timesheets in the second free practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday afternoon.

Rosberg finished half a second adrift of Hamilton in the first session, but managed to redress the balance by finishing 0.458 seconds clear in FP2 with a fastest lap time of 1:12.385.

It was far from being a trouble-free session for Rosberg as he reported a number of issues, with one causing him to go off-track and take a trip over the grass in the final stages of his running.

Rain had been expected to hit Interlagos on Friday afternoon, but it never grew heavier than a light mist surrounding the track, allowing the teams to complete the session on the medium and soft dry compounds.

Ferrari posed the most serious challenge to Mercedes’ supremacy once again as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished third and fourth, edging out Daniel Ricciardo in fifth.

Valtteri Bottas led Williams’ charge to finish sixth ahead of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg, while Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten.

Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado followed Massa in 11th and 12th, leaving local favorite Felipe Nasr to finish 13th. Max Verstappen ended FP2 in P14 ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr, Jenson Button and Marcus Ericsson.

All drivers managed to complete extensive running with the exception of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who was sidelined early on after an engine fire developed on his car. The Spaniard was forced to park up before trudging back to the pits on foot, ending the session 18th.

The Manor duo of Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi once again propped up the timesheets as both continued to get to grips with their first F1 running at Interlagos.

Rosberg and Hamilton will renew their fight for supremacy in FP3 and qualifying on Saturday, the latter of which you can watch live on CNBC from 11am ET. For further broadcast details, click here.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.