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Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2 in Brazil – FP1 Report

Brazilian Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton led his Mercedes Formula 1 team mate Valtteri Bottas in FP1 in Sao Paulo.

The recent quadruple world champion broke the ultimate lap record almost immediately, eventually setting a 1:09.202 to go six tenths quicker than Rubens Barrichello’s 2004 record time.

Hamilton had a brief off at Juncao, effectively the final corner of the track, where he went onto the grass on the exit of the corner while letting the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg past.

Bottas was 0.127s slower in second, with Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari being the closest challenger to the Silver Arrows in third but more than half a second off Hamilton’s pace.

Max Verstappen was ahead of his Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo in fourth, with Sebastian Vettel in sixth, more than three-quarters-of-a-second off his season-long rival Hamilton. The German also spun his Ferrari at Turn 9 during the session.

While on track it was confirmed that Ricciardo would take a 10-place grid penalty for a change of MGU-H, after the brand new one used in Mexico was damaged. He has also taken on a new energy store and control electronics, but does not take a penalty for the these changes.

Also taking penalties are the two Toro Rossos, having also taken on new MGU-Hs. More component changes are expected, however, especially as Brendon Hartley’s car went up in smoke after two laps of running with a suspected oil system issue.

Pierre Gasly lost the second half of the session with an MGU-H issue.

Several drivers began to make errors towards the end of the session during their long runs as the tyres wore off quicker than expected, with Verstappen running wide at Turn 7 and Bottas going on the grass on the exit of Turn 11 and flat-spotting his tyres.

Felipe Massa was seventh fastest for Williams ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, who is now on a par with team mate Fernando Alonso in terms of aero package. Alonso finished tenth behind Force India’s Esteban Ocon.

Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc got more running in the session with Sauber in place of Pascal Wehrlein. He finished the session ahead of team mate Marcus Ericsson in 17th.

His fellow junior contender Antonio Giovinazzi will drive for Haas in FP2.

GP3 champion and Mercedes junior George Russell made his Grand Prix weekend debut with Force India, driving Sergio Perez’s car. He finished the session 12th, 1.8s off the pace.

FP1 Results.

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Chris Stevens

Chris is a member of the Autosport Academy and has been writing about motorsport professionally since 2015. He has been one of the top Formula E journalists since he went to Donington Park for pre-season testing a week after picking up his A-Level results.

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