Formula 1

Brazilian GP practice: Lewis Hamilton narrowly leads Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton narrowly defeated Max Verstappen to top final practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix, hinting at a tight Formula 1 qualifying battle between Mercedes and Red Bull.

Hamilton’s 1m08.320s shaded Verstappen by just 0.026 seconds ahead of qualifying at Interlagos, with Ferrari slightly adrift of its two rivals.

Verstappen headed the order at the halfway stage of the session after emerging on top of the first set of soft-tyre runs.

His 1m109.063s was the second of two laps that put him quickest after taking to the track later than his rivals.

Hamilton was 0.391s behind as Mercedes opted for a third flying lap for each of its drivers on the same set of tyres.

The Ferraris were shuffled back to more than half a second slower than Verstappen at this stage, but moved to the top by kicking off the second round of qualifying simulations.

Charles Leclerc outpaced Sebastian Vettel by half a tenth, while Vettel failed to improve by 0.005s after two cool-down laps and a second flier.

Hamilton then swiftly knocked Leclerc off top spot with a 1m08.320s that beat the Ferrari by almost three tenths of a second.

Valtteri Bottas failed to make similar ground in the other Mercedes, posting a personal best but lapping almost a second slower than Hamilton after running wide exiting the left-hander at the end of the first sector.

Verstappen’s final qualifying simulations started strongly with the best first sector of anyone, but he lost time to Hamilton in the middle part of the lap and wound up 0.026s adrift.

Another fastest first sector followed, but the lap fell away again and he just failed to improve.

Alex Albon, who was well behind Verstappen after their first efforts, improved twice on his second set of tyres to jump Bottas for fifth, although he still wound up 0.8s off the pace.

Behind the big three teams, Daniil Kvyat recovered from his Friday off to set the fastest time among the midfielders.

The Toro Rosso driver was just two tenths slower than Albon, and half a tenth clear of Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo.

McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr completed the top 10.

At the foot of the times, Robert Kubica finally completed his first timed laps of the weekend.

Kubica had missed Friday morning so reserve driver Nicholas Latifi could take part, then crashed heavily at the start of the afternoon session.

The damage required Williams to switch Kubica to a new chassis, which he used to complete 23 laps – more than any other driver – on his way to the slowest time, three tenths behind team-mate George Russell.

Practice three times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m08.320s 17
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1m08.346s 0.026s 18
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m08.611s 0.291s 20
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m08.664s 0.344s 22
5 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1m09.136s 0.816s 17
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m09.201s 0.881s 20
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 1m09.415s 1.095s 22
8 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m09.462s 1.142s 20
9 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m09.585s 1.265s 18
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1m09.588s 1.268s 21
11 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m09.619s 1.299s 21
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m09.625s 1.305s 19
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m09.650s 1.330s 17
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m09.713s 1.393s 18
15 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m09.761s 1.441s 17
16 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m09.798s 1.478s 20
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 1m09.995s 1.675s 19
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1m10.312s 1.992s 16
19 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m10.843s 2.523s 19
20 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 1m11.205s 2.885s 23

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