Bot­tas edges team­mate Lewis Hamil­ton in Brazil­ian GP prac­tice

Malta Independent - - Sport -

Valt­teri Bot­tas and Lewis Hamil­ton set the pace in prac­tice for the Brazil­ian Grand Prix on Fri­day, keeping Mercedes with the edge in the fight for the For­mula One con­struc­tors' cham­pi­onship.

Bot­tas edged his Mercedes team­mate on a warmer In­ter­la­gos track than the ex­pected for the rest of the week­end. The Fin­nish driver had a lap of 1 minute, 08.846 sec­onds in the sec­ond prac­tice ses­sion at the Sao Paulo cir­cuit, with world cham­pion Hamil­ton only 0.003 sec­onds be­hind.

Fer­rari's Se­bas­tian Vettel fin­ished third, 0.073 sec­onds from Bot­tas. The Red Bulls of Daniel Ric­cia­rdo and Max Ver­stap­pen ended in fourth and fifth places, re­spec­tively, and Vettel's team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen was sixth.

Mercedes leads Fer­rari in the con­struc­tor's cham­pi­onship by 55 points.

Bot­tas could not say what made the small dif­fer­ence be­tween him and five-time cham­pion Hamil­ton. He in­sisted the two Mercedes will have to im­prove to se­cure the con­struc­tors' ti­tle.

"We can't be feel­ing sat­is­fied go­ing to the ho­tel tonight, ev­ery­one will be work­ing," said Bot­tas, cur­rently fourth in the driv­ers' cham­pi­onship. "It is a short track, so the mar­gin (for im­prove­ment) is small."

Hamil­ton said he ex­pects the big­gest chal­lenge com­ing from Fer­rari, not Red Bull. He said "the car is feel­ing bet­ter than in Mex­ico," where he se­cured his ti­tle two weeks ago.

"We got through ev­ery­thing we needed to," he said. "We just need to keep work­ing on it."

Vettel said his per­for­mance was troubled by a screw that fell be­tween his legs dur­ing the af­ter­noon ses­sion. "We found it in the end!" the four-time cham­pion said. "We still have to im­prove the car be­cause it doesn't feel good yet. If we get the bal­ance in the win­dow to­mor­row, then it can be tight (against Mercedes)."

The Ger­man driver is un­der pressure to de­liver good per­for­mances in Brazil and in the sea­son-end­ing Abu Dhabi GP af­ter a se­ries of mis­takes that left him out of con­tention for the ti­tle.

Red Bull's Ver­stap­pen led the first prac­tice ses­sion on Fri­day, with Vettel and Hamil­ton close be­hind.

Ric­cia­rdo, who was fourth in both ses­sions, was handed a five-place grid penalty af­ter Red Bull had to re­place his tur­bocharger for the sixth time this sea­son.

The Aus­tralian driver, who was on pole po­si­tion in Mex­ico, also started from the back be­cause of penal­ties in Italy and Rus­sia.

"It sounds re­ally sim­ple and silly, but bad luck re­ally is the best term I can use," Ric­cia­rdo said.

The sec­ond ses­sion was stopped af­ter nine min­utes be­cause Re­nault's Nico Hulken­berg crashed en­ter­ing the front stretch. The Ger­man driver was not in­jured but the car was badly dam­aged.

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