The 2012 Formula 1 world championship is in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the final race of an absorbing season. The winner of the season's constructors' championship may have been decided at the Circuit of The Americas in the first United States Grand Prix in five years - defending champions Red Bull Racing secured a third consecutive title. However, the drivers' championship still hangs in the balance, with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel being chased by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Vettel, the defending champion, is also bidding for a hat-trick of titles.
Friday Practice Review
McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, the winner of the last race, continued his fine form from the Circuit of the Americas in the United States, setting fastest times in both of Friday's practice sessions. The 2008 world champion, who confirmed a controversial move to the Mercedes works team for next season, clocked 1:14.131 in the first session and 1:14.026 in the second and finished marginally ahead of the two Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber on both occasions.
Hamilton later admitted he was a little wary about high track temperatures and tyre wear but all in all was delighted with so positive a Friday. Incidentally, speaking of tyres, all teams tested prototype Pirelli compounds for the 2013 season and, in fact, the fastest times in the first session were set on those tyres.
The Ferraris, meanwhile, were where Alonso expected them to be - on the third or fourth rows. Alonso's fastest time of the day was a 1:14.392 in the first session, which was 0.261s off Hamilton. Not a particularly insurmountable gap but the track is expected to go quicker once it rubbers in better, so the Spaniard knows he has some catching up to do.
"It was very hot out on the circuit today and, especially this afternoon, the track temperatures were well above normal, even for this circuit. We have not yet found the ideal balance on the car, so there is still a lot of work to be done with the engineers going into the rest of the weekend," he told the sport's official website at the end of the day.
The double world champion also spent parts of the day testing parts for next season, so it is possible he may not have displayed his true pace in either of the sessions.
The relationship between temperatures and tyre wear proved to be a troublesome one for the grid. Pirelli have brought the same compounds from the last race - hard and medium - but the higher ambient temperatures, coupled with a more abrasive surface, means degradation will definitely be higher, as will the number of pit stops.
Elsewhere on the practice grid, Button clocked a fastest of 1:14.217 to finish fourth in the morning, while local favourite Massa took that position in the afternoon, with 1:14.553. The second session also saw a strong performance from seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher in his Mercedes. The veteran will retire, for the second time, after this race, and he clearly wants to go out in style. The German clocked 1:14.654 to beat his team mate by 0.015s.
Where to Watch Final Practice and Qualifying Live
The third and final practice session for the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix is scheduled for 12.45pm GMT, with qualifying to start at 3pm GMT. Live coverage of both sessions is available on Sky Sports F1 HD. Live coverage of the qualifying session is also available on BBC One and BBC One HD. Real-time text updates are available on the Live Timing section of the sport's official website.