Mer­cedes set pace in prac­tice as Bot­tas edges out Hamil­ton

Mer­cedes need to be 43 points ahead by the end of to­mor­row’s race to clinch ti­tle

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

Valt­teri Bot­tas squeezed ahead of team­mate Lewis Hamil­ton as Mer­cedes showed their pace in the sec­ond prac­tice ses­sion yes­ter­day for to­mor­row’s Brazil­ian Grand Prix.

Bot­tas was just 0.003 sec­onds quicker than Hamil­ton, who has al­ready clinched his fifth For­mula One driv­ers’ ti­tle. Mer­cedes are now out at the In­ter­la­gos track to re­tain the con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship.

In a tight ses­sion, Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel was 0.073 sec­onds be­hind Bot­tas in third place, ahead of the Red Bulls of Daniel Ric­cia­rdo and Max Ver­stap­pen, with team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen sixth.

The sec­ond ses­sion was in­ter­rupted for around six min­utes with a red flag af­ter Re­nault driver Nico Huelken­berg crashed into a wall, de­mol­ish­ing the right-hand front of his car. The Ger­man was, how­ever, un­hurt.

Ver­stap­pen had set the pace in the open­ing prac­tice ses­sion, ahead of Vet­tel and Hamil­ton, on the the 4.309-kilo­me­tre Au­to­dromo Jose Car­los Pace in Sao Paulo.

While the driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship is set­tled, Mer­cedes are out to clinch a sixth straight con­struc­tors’ ti­tle in the sea­son’s penul­ti­mate race.

Mer­cedes have a 55-point ad­van­tage over Fer­rari and need to be 43 points ahead by the end of to­mor­row’s race to clinch the ti­tle be­fore the sea­son’s fi­nal grand prix in Abu Dhabi on Novem­ber 25.

TURBO SWAP HANDS RIC­CIA­RDO A GRID PENALTY

Ric­cia­rdo will have a five place grid penalty for to­mor­row’s Brazil­ian Grand Prix af­ter Red Bull re­placed the tur­bocharger on his car’s power unit.

Stew­ards said the sixth new tur­bocharger ex­ceeded the driver’s per­mit­ted al­lo­ca­tion, trig­ger­ing the au­to­matic drop.

Team prin­ci­pal Chris­tian Horner told Sky Sports tele­vi­sion that the prob­lem was a con­se­quence of Ric­cia­rdo’s re­tire­ment at the pre­vi­ous race in Mex­ico and the lo­cal mar­shals’ use of a fire ex­tin­guisher.

“You can’t re­ally blame them, the car was ob­vi­ously smok­ing,” he said.

“But they shot foam up the ex­haust and as it so­lid­i­fies in the turbo, it’s ter­mi­nated it.

“He’ll take a five place penalty but hope­fully on a track like this it’s not ac­tu­ally that big a penalty.”

Ric­cia­rdo was first out of the garages in prac­tice at In­ter­la­gos yes­ter­day, wait­ing for sev­eral min­utes at the end of the pits for the ses­sion to start.

Un­der For­mula One rules, grid penal­ties are ap­plied ac­cord­ing to the or­der in which the of­fences are com­mit­ted, as reg­is­tered by the car’s transpon­der leav­ing the pit­lane.

That means any­one else who picks up a penalty will have it ap­plied af­ter Ric­cia­rdo’s.

The Aus­tralian, who is join­ing Re­nault for next sea­son, started the pre­vi­ous race in Mex­ico on pole po­si­tion be­fore suf­fer­ing his eighth re­tire­ment of the sea­son, twice as many as team mate Max Ver­stap­pen.

A dis­ap­pointed Ric­cia­rdo said af­ter­wards that he did not see the point in do­ing the last two races but soon changed his mind.

“I was an­gry and upset. At the time I felt like I meant it but deep down I didn’t,” he told Sky Sports tele­vi­sion. “It was a good way to ex­press how I felt.

“For­tu­nately, I tend to wake up Mon­day morn­ing and it’s like a new day and I can for­get pretty quickly the Sun­day.”

(AFP)

Mer­cedes’ Fin­nish driver Valt­teri Bot­tas pow­ers his car dur­ing the sec­ond free prac­tice of the Brazil­ian Grand Prix at the In­ter­la­gos race­track in Sao Paulo yes­ter­day.

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