Brazilian GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report

Fastest ever

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton 

 © RV Press


By Dan Knutson in Interlagos

Having clinched the 2017 world championship in Mexico, Lewis Hamilton was on form in Brazil where in Free Practice 1 he clocked the fastest lap ever recorded at the Interlagos circuit. His Mercedes teammate Bottas wound up second fastest.

The lineup for the weekend was: Mercedes - Hamilton and Bottas; Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Force India Mercedes - Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll; McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Renault - Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz; Toro Rosso Renault - Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley; Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

Reserve drivers in FP1 were: 2017 GP3 champion George Russell in Perez's Force India, and 2017 Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc in Wehrlein's Sauber.

Ricciardo was the first driver out on the 15-turn 2.677-mile (4.309 km) Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, better known by its former name Interlagos.

"Interlagos is one of the great 'classic' tracks on the calendar, with an incredible history and a long list of famous names that have lifted the trophy," Alonso said. "It's also one of the most dramatic grands prix of the year - there are always incidents and action and the weather plays a big part in the outcome."

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Centigrade). There was a 10 percent chance of rain.

Pirelli's slick tire compounds for the weekend were the medium, soft and super soft.

Mexican Grand Prix winner Verstappen used the super softs to set the first times of the weekend: 1:12.253 followed by 1:11.491, a slow lap and then a 1:10.959.

Then along came Bottas who clocked a 1:10.102 on the softs.

Hamilton was quickest in FP1 last year with a time of 1:11.895. And pole was a 1:10.736 set by the same driver.

Meanwhile, a plume of white smoke appeared from the back of Hartley's Toro Rosso, showing yet another Renault engine failure.

Hamilton, also on the softs, got within 0.072 of a second of Bottas while Vettel, third quickest, had a quick spin at Turn 9.

"I pushed a little too hard into 8 and lost the car in 9," Vettel radioed.

Botts came back with a 1:09.941, and Hamilton topped that with a 1:09.672 and a 1:09.606 and then a 1:09.445. That was the fastest ever lap recorded on this layout of the circuit. And the Merc drivers were still on the soft tires.

The race lap record is a 1:11.473 set by Juan Pablo Montoya in 2004.

Things finally calmed down at the 40-minute break. The top 10 were: Hamilton, Bottas, Massa, Vettel, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Vandoorne, Raikkonen, Ocon and Stroll.

The action resumed and so did the fast laps. Bottas, now on the super softs, turned a lap in 1:09.329. Hamilton used the same compound to get down to 1:09.202. The fastest Ferrari and Red Bull drivers could not get within half a second of that.

Further runs put Raikkonen into third ahead of Verstappen, Ricciardo, Vettel and Massa.

The top 10 at the end of this fastest ever FP1 were: Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Vettel, Massa, Vandoorne, Ocon and Alonso. All used the super soft tires for their best laps.

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