Final practice for the Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix proved to be a closely-fought affair, although Mercedes once again led the way on the stopwatch.

After newly-crowned four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton was the fastest driver in Friday’s two practice sessions, this time it was the turn of his teammate Valtteri Bottas to set the pace.

With just over 0.05 seconds covering the fastest four drivers, Bottas headed the order with a time of 1:09.281 on Pirelli’s Super Soft compound. Hamilton followed in his wake just 0.003 seconds slower, with the two Ferraris of Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel hot on their heels just 0.045 and 0.058 seconds off the pace respectively.

Red Bull Racing kept both of its drivers in the garage early in the session to preserve engine mileage and proved unable to match the pace of the top four. Almost a second slower than Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo ended the session fifth on the timesheets. Teammate Max Verstappen, who struggled with understeer, could manage no better than ninth-fastest and scuppered his attempt at a qualifying-style lap on Super Soft tyres with a wild spin exiting Junção.

Just four-hundredths slower than Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso hauled his McLaren-Honda sixth fastest ahead of Force India duo Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon. Behind Verstappen, Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. completed the top ten.

In their wake came the second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne and Williams’ Felipe Massa, while the second Renault of Nico Hülkenberg split the Haas pairing of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

While tensions exploded in a public slanging match between Toro Rosso and their outgoing engine supplier Renault, the team’s drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley knuckled down to finish 16th and 17th respectively. Still making up lost mileage, the pair topped the lap count and clocked over 60 laps in the one-hour session.

Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson brought up the rear with the slowest times.

Williams rookie Lance Stroll managed a single lap before stopping out on track with a suspected gearbox issue. When his car was returned to the pits, the team’s mechanics set about changing the car’s gearbox and engine, which will give the Canadian youngster a grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Saturday’s qualifying session at Interlagos, which now looks set to be run in dry weather conditions, will begin at 14:00 local time (GMT -2).

Driver Team / Entry Time Tyre Laps
1. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:09.281 Pirelli Super Soft 24
2. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:09.284 Pirelli Super Soft 26
3. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:09.326 Pirelli Super Soft 20
4. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:09.339 Pirelli Super Soft 21
5. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:10.244 Pirelli Super Soft 14
6. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:10.288 Pirelli Super Soft 15
7. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:10.322 Pirelli Super Soft 21
8. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:10.357 Pirelli Super Soft 23
9. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:10.495 Pirelli Soft 9
10. Carlos Sainz Jr es Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:10.599 Pirelli Super Soft 23
11. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:10.637 Pirelli Super Soft 21
12. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:10.671 Pirelli Super Soft 14
13. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:10.721 Pirelli Super Soft 19
14. Nico Hülkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:10.743 Pirelli Super Soft 18
15. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:10.762 Pirelli Super Soft 20
16. Pierre Gasly fr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:10.981 Pirelli Super Soft 32
17. Brendon Hartley nz Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:11.085 Pirelli Super Soft 30
18. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:11.126 Pirelli Super Soft 25
19. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:11.480 Pirelli Super Soft 27
20. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 no time Pirelli Medium 1

Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.