Bot­tas tops times, promises im­prove­ments

Manila Times - - Motor Sports -

SAO PAULO: Valt­teri Bot­tas promised he and Mercedes will keep on push­ing for more per­for­mance af­ter top­ping the times ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamil­ton in a ‘Sil­ver Ar­rows’ one-two in Fri­day’s (Satur­day in Manila) sec­ond prac­tice for the Brazil­ian Grand Prix.

The Finn, seek­ing his first vic­tory in nearly a year since the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, beat new five-time cham­pion Hamil­ton by 0.003 sec­onds in a highly com­pet­i­tive ses­sion at In­ter­la­gos.

“It was a bit of a mixed day,” he said. “Much bet­ter in the af­ter­noon than the morn­ing, which was quite dif­fi­cult. Then, it was easy to make mis­takes and I had a few lock­ups and aborted laps.

“In the af­ter­noon, I man­aged to find a rhythm and the pace felt good. It is a short track, though, and the mar­gins are small - it is very close be­tween the top three teams,

“We can’t af­ford to re­lax or be sat­is­fied. We know ev­ery­one is work­ing hard overnight on their per­for­mance so we will keep on push­ing as well.”

Hamil­ton said his car felt bet­ter than it was in Mex­ico where he won the driv­ers ti­tle two week­ends ear­lier.

Mercedes Fin­nish driver Valt­teri Bot­tas is seen at the In­ter­la­gos pits dur­ing the free prac­tices for the Brazil­ian GP on Sun­day in the In­ter­la­gos race­track on Satur­day in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“We are still work­ing through some is­sues. Rain is fore­cast, but I love driv­ing in the rain so that’s not a prob­lem... We need to make sure we are quick enough in the dry.”

The Mercedes driv­ers are seek­ing to clinch the team’s fifth con­sec­u­tive con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship this week­end, know­ing that Fer­rari need to out­per­form them by 13 points to keep the ti­tle race alive.

Vet­tel, who was third fastest, made light of the chal­lenge and af­ter some jok­ing said he felt sure he and Fer­rari were: “in the ball­park” to make a se­ri­ous bid for vic­tory on a cir­cuit where he has won three times, in­clud­ing last year.

“We have some work to do on our set-up, but we are there­abouts,” he said.

Bot­tas clocked a best time in one minute and 8.846 sec­onds to out­pace Hamil­ton on a sul­try and over­cast day.

It was the first time Bot­tas had topped a sec­ond prac­tice ses­sion since the 2017 Ital­ian Grand Prix and in­di­cated he is in the form to re­peat the pole po­si­tion he claimed for last year’s Brazil­ian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, who will take a five-place grid penalty for Sun­day’s race af­ter re­new­ing part of his power unit, was fourth for Red Bull ahead of his team­mate Max Ver­stap­pen who had been quick­est in the morn­ing’s open­ing ses­sion.

The Dutch­man, win­ner of the Mex­i­can Grand Prix two week­ends ago, suf­fered an oil leak which de­layed his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the sec­ond ses­sion.

Kimi Raikko­nen was sixth in the sec­ond Fer­rari ahead of Ro­main Gros­jean of Haas, Charles Le­clerc of Sauber, Kevin Mag­nussen in the sec­ond Haas and Este­ban Ocon of Force In­dia.

Five of the cars in the top ten were pow­ered by Fer­rari en­gines.

The ses­sion be­gan event­fully with Nico Hulken­berg los­ing con­trol of his Re­nault and crash­ing heav­ily on the as­cent to the fi­nal cor­ner of the fast and per­ilous track. He was un­hurt.

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