Hamilton tops opening practice in Brazil

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

Friday’s opening practice for the Formula 1 Grande Premio do Brasil 2016 suggested that Red Bull could be a major factor in this weekend’s title fight, as Max Verstappen trailed Lewis Hamilton by just 0.096s in Interlagos. Verstappen split the Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg third ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

As four-tenths of a second covered the top four, the fifth-placed Williams of Valtteri Bottas was a long way back, over 1.2s off Hamilton’s pace. The Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were sixth and seventh respectively, followed by the second Williams of local hero Felipe Massa and the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, neither of whom ran the soft Pirelli tires.

It was a sunny Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace that greeted the field as Hamilton carried on his recent form from the United States and Mexican Grands Prix. The world champion was fastest on both the medium and the soft tires, though Verstappen ran him very close.

In the early running, Hamilton led points-leading team mate Rosberg with 1m 13.157s to 1m 13.187s on the mediums, ahead of the Red Bulls of Riccardo on 1m 13.342s and Verstappen on 1m 13.425s. Raikkonen headed Ferrari partner Vettel on the same rubber, 1m 13.955s to 1m 13.994s. But they were only seventh and eighth as Williams ran the softs so that Bottas and Massa were able to take fifth and sixth on 1m 13.710s and 1m 13.869s respectively.

On the soft rubber Verstappen went ahead with 1m 11.991s to top Rosberg, whose response was 1m 12.125s. But then Hamilton lapped in 1m 11.895s, which remained the fastest time, and later backed that with 1m 11.960s.

Ricciardo took fourth on 1m 12.371s, from Bottas on 1m 13.129s, the Force Indias of Perez and Hulkenberg on 1m 13.289s and 1m 13.293s, and Massa on 1m 13.318s.

Ferrari elected not to run the softs, leaving Vettel ninth on 1m 13.567s and Raikkonen 10th on 1m 13.569s. The German then spun at Turn 11, Mergulho, during his long-run simulation.

Outside the top 10, Toro Rosso headed McLaren, with Daniil Kvyat suffering a punctured right rear medium tire during one run. At the back, Haas Friday runner Charles Leclerc was 21st fastest on 1m 15.391s in Esteban Gutierrez’s car, and Renault counterpart Sergey Sirotkin’s run in Kevin Magnussen’s machine was troubled by a mechanical problem which left him 22nd on 1m 15.800s to newly re-signed team mate Jolyon Palmer’s 19th fastest 1m 14.908s.

Results

POS NO DRIVER CAR TIME GAP LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:11.895 +0.000s 32
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:11.991 +0.096s 29
3 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 1:12.125 +0.230s 26
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:12.371 +0.476s 27
5 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:13.129 +1.234s 36
6 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:13.289 +1.394s 31
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:13.293 +1.398s 33
8 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:13.318 +1.423s 33
9 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:13.567 +1.672s 24
10 7 Kimi Raikkonen FERRARI 1:13.569 +1.674s 26
11 55 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO FERRARI 1:13.711 +1.816s 22
12 26 Daniil Kvyat TORO ROSSO FERRARI 1:14.090 +2.195s 15
13 22 Jenson Button MCLAREN HONDA 1:14.252 +2.357s 27
14 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 1:14.296 +2.401s 26
15 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:14.507 +2.612s 25
16 12 Felipe Nasr SAUBER FERRARI 1:14.631 +2.736s 21
17 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:14.654 +2.759s 23
18 31 Esteban Ocon MRT MERCEDES 1:14.827 +2.932s 30
19 30 Jolyon Palmer RENAULT 1:14.908 +3.013s 32
20 94 Pascal Wehrlein MRT MERCEDES 1:14.948 +3.053s 32
21 50 Charles Leclerc HAAS FERRARI 1:15.391 +3.496s 27
22 46 Sergey Sirotkin RENAULT 1:15.800 +3.905s 10

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