Hamilton tops first Brazil practice as Red Bull closes in

© F1 Pulse, 11 November 2016
© Daimler AG

Lewis Hamilton began what could be his final fight for the title by setting the fastest time in the first practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the season, on Friday.

The defending champion clocked a time of 1 minute 11.895 seconds around the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, but was only 0.096 seconds quicker than the second-placed Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

Still, Hamilton's gap to championship leader and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was 0.230 seconds, with the German sandwiched around the Red Bull duo ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

Rosberg will seal the title should he win the race on Sunday, regardless where Hamilton finishes.

Williams' Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were sliced by the the Force India pair of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg while the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen rounded up the top ten separated by just two thousandths of a second.

Vettel was the only driver to get caught in a spin in the 90-minute session, held under hot weather and sunny skies, losing his car as he exited Turn 11. He ended up in the run off area without any damage.

It was a largely uneventful outing, punctuated by moments like Daniil Kvyat's right-rear puncture, which Pirelli's initial conclusions suggesting that it was a "non tyre-related problem via a component issue."

Charles Leclerc stepped in Esteban Gutierrez's Haas for the outing while Sergey Sirotkin drove Kevin Magnussen's Renault. Those were the only driver changes for first practice, with the regular drivers set to take over in the second session.

 

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