Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2 in Brazil

Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2 in Brazil
By AutoSport

10/11/2017 at 15:19

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton headed a comfortable Mercedes one-two in opening free practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton's FP1-topping effort beat the Interlagos track record, surpassing the 1m09.822s by Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello in qualifying in 2004.

Hamilton, who clinched the 2017 drivers' title two weeks ago in Mexico, headed team-mate Valtteri Bottas by a tenth in the opening 90-minute session.

Red Bull's Mexican GP winner Max Verstappen was the only driver to set a laptime in the first 10 minutes - but his initial benchmark was quickly surpassed by the soft-shod Mercedes of Bottas, the Finn ending his first run on a 1m10.102s laptime.

This kept him top until he emerged for a second run on the same set of softs, and as Hamilton moved to within 0.072s of the benchmark, Bottas improved to 1m09.941s.

But the newly-crowned champion's next effort, arriving at around the half-hour mark, then broke the circuit lap record - and he subsequently improved twice more to end up at 1m09.445s.

As the session passed its halfway point, Bottas ventured out on super-softs and briefly took the top spot from Hamilton, only for his team-mate to respond immediately.

Hamilton's 1m09.202s would be enough to keep him top until the chequered flag, with the Mercedes duo focusing on super-soft long runs later in the session.

Kimi Raikkonen led Ferrari's efforts in third, half a second behind Hamilton and just 0.006s clear of fourth-placed Verstappen.

Daniel Ricciardo edged Sebastian Vettel for fifth, the German's FP1 run punctuated by an early spin at the Turn 9 left-hander.

Williams driver Felipe Massa, who recently announced his retirement from F1 at the end of the season, was seventh on home soil, and the last driver to lap within a second of Hamilton.

Stoffel Vandoorne, finally in possession of McLaren's upgraded front wing, outpaced team-mate Fernando Alonso, with the pair - in eighth and 10th - split by Force India's Esteban Ocon.

Lance Stroll was half a second off Williams team-mate Massa in 11th, with the Canadian's former F3 rival George Russell - replacing Sergio Perez at Force India in FP1 for his grand prix weekend debut - taking 12th, six tenths behind Ocon.

Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen followed in 13th and 14th, with Antonio Giovinazzi - who was originally slated to contest FP1 in the Dane's Haas car - having his outing delayed until FP2.

Nico Hulkenberg, who annoyed Hamilton with a forceful move down the inside of the Juncao left-hander, trailed Renault team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr in 16th, while Sauber's FP1 stand-in Charles Leclerc headed team regular Marcus Ericsson in 17th.

Toro Rosso was bottom of the standings in both laptime and mileage, managing little in the way of meaningful running.

While Pierre Gasly ended up 4.8s adrift with five laps to his name, team-mate Brendon Hartley, celebrating his 28th birthday, suffered yet another failure and had to leave his heavily-smoking STR12 at the side of the track without getting a single timed lap.

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