Hamilton Continues to Top Times in Brazil Ahead of Rosberg

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton continued to set the pace at Interlagos, though he was pressed hard in second practice ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix by weekend title hopeful Nico Rosberg.

Rosberg, who is bidding to take an unassailable championship lead over Hamilton in Brazil, finished the opening practice session at the Sao Paulo circuit just over two tenths of a second behind the defending champion. In the afternoon performance runs, however, the title leading German closed the gap on his British rival to just three hundredths of a second.

Behind the Mercedes pair, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and local hero team-mate Felipe Massa also improved on their morning positions, with the Finn moving from fifth in the morning to third in the afternoon, and Massa stepping up to fourth from sixth.

Behind them came the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, with the Australian reversing their morning order by outpacing his young team-mate by a tenth of a second in the afternoon runs on soft tyres.

Williams’ hopes of closing an 11-point gap to Force India in their battle for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship will have been given a boost by the fact that Bottas and Massa finished the session more than half a second clear of the nearest Force India man, Nico Hulkenberg, who finished in ninth position. The German’s team-mate Sergio Perez was further back in P14 a full second adrift of Bottas.

In the morning session Ferrari chose to focus its running on the medium-compound Pirelli tyres, with the result that its drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished in ninth and tenths positions respectively.

The pair improved in the aftertnoon on the soft tyre and Vettel eventually climbed to seventh place, though he did lose part of his front wing after running hard over the kerbs late in the sesson. Raikkonen backed the four-time champion up in eighth place. However, both men were over 1500ths of a second adrift of the time of the best Red Bull, Ferrari’s rival for second place in the Constructors’ battle.

The final top 10 place in the session went to Jenson Button. The McLaren driver was restricted to just 19 laps however as he spent most of the session confined to the team’s garage. A dismal session for the Woking team was made worse when Button’s team-mate Fernando Alonso stopped on track with an ERS problem.

Elsewhere, and incident between Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Ferrari’s Raikkonen was set to be investigated after the session by race stewards. The pair ran wheel to wheel on track as Raikkonen passed the Spaniard and the Finn then appeared to cut across the Toro Rosso driver.

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes  1:12.271   41
2  Nico Rosberg  Mercedes  1:12.301  0.030  40
3  Valtteri Bottas  Williams 1:12.761  0.490  47
4  Felipe Massa  Williams 1:12.789  0.518  43
5  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull Racing 1:12.828  0.557  43
6  Max Verstappen  Red Bull Racing 1:12.928  0.657  45
7  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari  1:13.002  0.731  45
8  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari  1:13.047  0.776  24
9  Nico Hulkenberg  Force India 1:13.299  1.028  42
10  Jenson Button  McLaren 1:13.440  1.169  19
11  Fernando Alonso  McLaren 1:13.572  1.301  18
12  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso 1:13.689  1.418  46
13  Carlos Sainz Jnr  Toro Rosso 1:13.801  1.530  47
14  Sergio Perez  Force India 1:13.918  1.647  38
15  Romain Grosjean  Haas 1:14.074  1.803  35
16  Kevin Magnussen  Renault  1:14.109  1.838  47
17  Felipe Nasr  Sauber 1:14.309  2.038  40
18  Esteban Ocon  Manor 1:14.317  2.046  46
19  Jolyon Palmer  Renault  1:14.436  2.165  43
20  Esteban Gutierrez  Haas 1:14.558  2.287  42
21  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber 1:14.695  2.424  21
22  Pascal Wehrlein  Manor 1:14.958  2.687  22


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