Newly-crowned four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the opening practice session of the Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The Englishman led a Mercedes 1-2 on the timesheets at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo, narrowly edging teammate Valtteri Bottas by just over one-tenth of a second. The pair was almost half a second quicker than the chasing Ferrari and Red Bull Racing drivers, a considerable margin given the 4.3-kilometre circuit takes a little over a minute to lap.
Hamilton’s fastest time of the session, a 1:09.202 posted on Pirelli’s Super Soft tyres, was over 1.5 seconds faster than the time he posted to claim pole position at last year’s event. The time shattered the circuit’s lap record, a 1:09.822 posted by local Rubens Barrichello thirteen years previously in Ferrari’s all-conquering F2004.
With rain showers predicted for Friday afternoon’s second practice session, it was a busy session out on track as everyone sought to take advantage of the dry track conditions to fine-tune set-ups.
Those ambitions were true for every team except Scuderia Toro Rosso, who saw both Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly’s running curtailed with separate power unit failures. Hartley ground to a halt after just two laps with a halfshaft failure, while Gasly’s MGU-H failed after only five laps. After the Italian team suffered a spate of Renault power unit issues at the preceding Mexican Grand Prix, it is expected that both drivers will again take grid penalties into Sunday’s race.
Up at the sharp end of the timesheets, Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen was the nearest challenger to the Mercedes’, lapping fractionally quicker than the Red Bull Racing pair of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
The Finn’s teammate Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest in a session that proved rather more incident-filled than the German would have wanted. At one stage the German found himself blocked by a slow-moving Carlos Sainz Jr. at the Senna ‘S’; he also had a half-spin at Pinheirinho just before the half-hour mark in the session.
Felipe Massa, contesting the penultimate Grand Prix of his Formula 1 career, put his Williams seventh-fastest. The Brazilian veteran finished four places and half a second quicker than teammate Lance Stroll.
McLaren had a productive first session, with Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso both managing to get their Honda-powered MCL32s into the top ten. The pair sandwiched Esteban Ocon’s Force India on the timesheets.
Occupying the other Force India in this session was Mercedes-backed GP3 Series champion George Russell, making his Formula 1 practice debut in place of Sergio Pérez. The young Briton had an impressive hit-out over 29 laps, with his fastest lap time six-tenths slower than Ocon’s en route to twelfth overall.
Russell was followed by the Haas F1 Team duo of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, who placed 13th and 14th respectively. Magnussen was scheduled to sit out the session in place of Ferrari junior driver Antonio Giovinazzi, but was given priority to run due to the threat of wet weather expected in the afternoon.
They finished ahead of the two Renaults of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hülkenberg. Both earned the ire of other drivers, with Sainz Jr. getting in Vettel’s way and Hülkenberg clumsily forcing Hamilton off track at Junção while the Englishman was on a flying lap.
With the two Toro Rossos out of action, that promoted Sauber off the bottom of the timesheets. Ferrari protégé and Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc had another FP1 outing for the Swiss squad, narrowly edging Marcus Ericsson.
Friday’s second practice session at Interlagos will begin at 14:00 local time (GMT -2).
|FORMULA 1 GRANDE PRÊMIO HEINEKEN DO BRASIL 2017 – FREE PRACTICE 1 RESULTS|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Tyre||Laps|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:09.202||36|
|2.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:09.329||43|
|3.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:09.744||32|
|4.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:09.750||31|
|5.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:09.828||38|
|6.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:09.984||32|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:10.102||28|
|8.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:10.402||26|
|9.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:10.454||36|
|10.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:10.476||24|
|11.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:10.632||42|
|12.||George Russell||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:11.047||29|
|13.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:11.188||29|
|14.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:11.463||30|
|15.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:11.467||32|
|16.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:11.608||35|
|17.||Charles Leclerc||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:11.802||32|
|18.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:11.898||28|
|19.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:14.034||5|
|20.||Brendon Hartley||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||no time||2|
Image via LAT Images