Hamilton is pipped to top spot in Brazil
LEWIS Hamilton was beaten to top spot in practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix by just three thousandths of a second as his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished fastest.
After Red Bull driver Max Verstappen led the way in the opening running at the Interlagos circuit yesterday, it was the turn of the Silver Arrows to top the time sheets in the day’s concluding session.
Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari, just 0.073 seconds slower than Bottas, with Daniel Ricciardo fourth.
Verstappen, who missed the majority of the second running with a crack in his oil tank, finished fifth, half-a-second off the pace.
Hamilton, sporting a new crash helmet to incorporate a fifth star celebrating his latest title triumph, has failed to win a race after clinching the championship with rounds to spare.
In 2015, Nico Rosberg won the last three grands prix of the season, before Vettel and Bottas claimed a win each last year.
But the British driver is keen to add to his tally of just one victory at the home of his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna, and would appear to be among the contenders with Mercedes seemingly back on song after their recent dip in form.
The Silver Arrows will seal their fifth consecutive constructors’ championship tomorrow if Ferrari fail to outscore them by 13 points, a feat the Italians have managed just twice this year.
Bottas, on pole position last year in Brazil, is also searching for his first win of the campaign.
Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg crashed out of the second session after he lost control of his car on the exit of the high-speed final corner and hit the wall.
The German sustained severe damage to the right-hand side of his Renault, and the red flags were issued as the marshals recovered his stricken machine.
Earlier yesterday, British teenager Lando Norris replaced Fernando Alonso as he continues his preparation ahead of his full debut next year.
Norris finished 16th, four tenths of a second quicker than Stoffel Vandoorne in the sister McLaren.
Norris has now finished faster than Vandoorne in all four practice sessions that they have taken part in together this season.