Hamil­ton is pipped to top spot in Brazil

The Chronicle - - Sport -

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.

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