Brazilian GP: Lewis Hamilton wants win to wrap up title for Mercedes

Brazilian GP: Lewis Hamilton wants win to wrap up title for Mercedes
FP1: Verstappen edges Vettel and Hamilton as Red Bull set early pace | Formula 1®
Having lived up to expectations and delivered a Mexican Grand Prix triumph two weeks ago, Red Bull predicted a tougher challenge in Brazil this weekend. But the early signs are promising for them, after Max Verstappen, the winner last time out, topped the opening-practice timesheet on Friday – though less than a tenth of a second split the top three…

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.

Read more On Wednesday Formula One confirmed a new grand prix in Hanoi, which will be a street race. This season is the second time the F1 calendar has been at its longest, with a total of 21 races. The sports owner Liberty Media has expressed a desire to expand it further and the Dutch media have reported that a race at Zandvoort is increasingly likely.

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.

Read more With the drivers title secured, Mercedes have yet to clinch the constructors championship and Ferrari must outscore them by 13 points in Brazil to take the fight to the final race. The team will be focused on maximising their points but Hamilton dismissed suggestions he would gift Bottas a victory at Interlagos.

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.

Its not something Ive asked Valtteri if he wants but I dont think hes going to want that. Hes going to want to win it in his own way. So I dont know if Ill be doing him any favours in the sense of giving him a win, I dont think he needs that. I think he thinks he can do it himself.

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.

Lewis Hamilton: Brazil security not on F1 champions mind

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.

“Here, the straight is uphill and always turning, so the car is scrubbing speed and it makes it even worse. And with the downforce we have on the cars the corners are all a bit more easier. Same scenario we have in Silverstone where a few years ago it was like a proper track with proper corners but now so much is flat out that it gets more painful for us. There is not much we can do.”

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….

“But I think it just points to the fact that there is still even at this time of the year things you can learn from and improve. Or methods you can apply to next year which will be important, so even though they have not been great races they have been steep learning curves for us.”

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.

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes hasn’t got to the bottom of why it has struggled in recent races and may not do so before the end of the season.

Hamilton threatens to quit if F1 continues to expand

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.

There were a couple of very minor incidents in the second half of the session, with Mercedes quickly fixing an oil leak on Bottas’ car and Kevin Magnussen’s morning ending early after ruining his supersofts with a big lock-up.

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.

There were also some fresh faces adding to their Formula 1 experience in the first practice session with Lando Norris, Nicholas Latifi and Antonio Giovinazzi replacing Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Marcus Ericsson respectively.

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.

“Sometimes if for example like next year you have a change of regulations, it can always give you an extra motivation, because inside the team you don’t know how to manage that, and it’s again going to be a long season.

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.