Verstappen, who dominated all three practice sessions at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, has seemingly brought that momentum to Interlagos, the Dutchman setting the pace under the grey Sao Paulo clouds to once again lead his teams pursuit of victory.
Brazilian GP: Lewis Hamilton beaten by Valtteri Bottas in practice
It was by the narrowest of margins, however, with Ferraris Sebastian Vettel just 0.049s behind the leader while Mercedes Lewis Hamilton, fresh from his championship-clinching exploits in Mexico, was a slender 0.047s further back in third.
While Verstappen was buoyant in Mexico, his team mate Daniel Ricciardo endured a miserable time a fortnight ago, and its already been confirmed that he will face a five-place grid penalty on Sunday after Red Bull fitted his RB14 with new power-unit elements.
That didnt put him off too much in FP1, though, the Renault-bound driver coming home fourth – and behind him, Kimi Raikkonen won the battle of the Finns with Valtteri Bottas, the Ferrari driver going 0.108s faster than his Mercedes rival to finish in P5.
Away from the top three teams, Renault and Haas are locked in a fierce battle for the best-of-the-rest accolade this season – and it was the latter who won the FP1 tussle in Brazil, with Romain Grosjean finishing in P7 ahead of team mate Kevin Magnussen.
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And it was another promising session for Saubers Ferrari-bound driver Charles Leclerc, who despite being 1.335s slower than Verstappen, finished narrowly ahead of Force Indias Esteban Ocon.
A relatively low-key session then, though McLarens Lando Norris – one of three Friday practice drivers to get a run out – and Magnussen both survived off-track moments, with grip at a premium at Interlagos.
So its Red Bull with the upper hand (but only just) going into Fridays second session. And with a possible shower of rain making an appearance, it should be exciting….
Valtteri Bottas led Lewis Hamilton to a Mercedes one-two in second practice at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Alain Prost: Lewis Hamilton will need new motivation
Bottas was just 0.003secs quicker than Hamilton, and Ferraris Sebastian Vettel was just 0.073secs off the pace in third.
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But Ferrari, who still have hopes of wresting the constructors championship from Mercedes, showed much stronger pace in race trim.
The tight left-hander is one of the most important bends on the track, as it leads on to the long, uphill pit straight. Hulkenberg ran a little wide and kept his foot down as the car ran off the kerb on to the grass, which pitched him into the wall.
The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were fourth and fifth, ahead of Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen, with Haas Romain Grosjean best of the rest ahead of Saubers Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton, who is determined to win after clinching the championship early for the first time in his career, did not sound satisfied with the Mercedes performance, complaining about tyres over the radio to the team a number of times through the session.
Although Mercedes had a slight edge on one-lap pace, Hamiltons speed on the race-simulation runs was worrying – Vettel was on average about 0.5secs a lap faster.
But the Ferrari was also struggling with tyres – Vettels rear tyres displayed blisters on long runs on both the super-soft and soft tyres.
“We all thought it was impossible,” Prost, a four-time World Champion, told Motorsport.com. “I always said this year, if you are Sebastian or Lewis, you cannot have a problem of motivation.
Mercedes are in a strong position in the constructors championship – they will win it on Sunday, a race early, as long as Ferrari do not score 12 more points than them.
But they are concerned about their slip in pace since Hamiltons victory in the Japanese Grand Prix and are keen to return to winning ways and to ensure they understand what happened in the previous two races in Austin and, particularly, Mexico.