Lewis Hamilton made his first appearance at the top of the Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix practice timesheets this weekend ahead of Saturday’s highly-anticipated qualifying session.

The Mercedes-AMG driver, crowned a six-time World Champion last time out at the United States, edged Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by just 0.026 seconds during their qualifying-style runs, with the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel keeping a close watching brief in third and fourth.

Hamilton’s quickest time, a 1:08.320, came with about fifteen minutes left on the clock in the final one-hour hit-out with his time toppling Leclerc’s then session-topping effort by almost three-tenths of a second.

After struggling for straightline speed in Texas, the Ferraris showed no such sluggishness around the Interlagos circuit. Leclerc – who will take a grid penalty for fitting a new engine – was the fastest driver in the first and third sector splits of the 4.309-kilometre lap.

Hamilton’s superior middle sector split times proved good enough to jump the Ferraris, and despite a late challenge from Verstappen – who was briefly confined to the garage while a front wing issue was rectified – he was able to hang onto top spot.

By contrast Hamilton and Verstappen’s respectively teammates, Valtteri Bottas (P6) and Alexander Albon (P5) were unable to unlock the same speed, although in both drivers’ defence they had scruffy laps that saw them roughly eight-tenths of a second off the ultimate pace.

Leading the ‘best of the rest’ charge was Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. The Russian seemed to have recovered from his stoppage at the end of FP2 and lapped seventh-fastest, fractionally slower than Bottas and around a second off Hamilton’s benchmark lap time. That being said, he did slide off at Turn 1 due to fading brakes.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi popped up in eighth-fastest, ahead of the McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. who were separated by just 0.003 seconds.

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:08.320 17
2. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing RB15 1:08.346 + 0.026 18
3. Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:08.611 + 0.291 20
4. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:08.664 + 0.344 22
5. Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing RB15 1:09.136 + 0.816 17
6. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:09.201 + 0.881 20
7. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:09.415 + 1.095 22
8. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:09.462 + 1.142 20
9. Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:09.585 + 1.265 18
10. Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:09.588 + 1.268 21
11. Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:09.619 + 1.299 21
12. Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:09.625 + 1.305 19
13. Nico Hülkenberg Renault F1 Team RS19 1:09.650 + 1.330 17
14. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:09.713 + 1.393 18
15. Daniel Ricciardo Renault F1 Team RS19 1:09.761 + 1.441 17
16. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:09.798 + 1.478 20
17. Sergio Pérez Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:09.995 + 1.675 19
18. Lance Stroll Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:10.312 + 1.992 16
19. George Russell ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:10.843 + 2.523 19
20. Robert Kubica ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:11.205 + 2.885 23

Image via Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

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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.