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Formula 1

Hamilton pips Verstappen in first practice but will serve grid penalty

After a slow start to the session, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton set the pace with a late lap during first practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix, pipping Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Hamilton Brazil
To news overview © Mercedes

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set the pace during first practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, rising to the top of the times with a late flying lap on the Soft tyre.

Due to this weekend's Grand Prix using the Sprint Qualifying format, the teams have just a solitary hour of practice ahead of qualifying and the enforcement of parc ferme conditions, which prevent any setup changes for the remainder of the event.

Max Verstappen led the way for Red Bull in the first half of the session as the teams used the Medium tyre compound for their quickest times, with the Dutch driver setting a 1:10.1 ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, before the change to the Soft compound tyre.

Verstappen lowered the benchmark to a 1:09.417 on his first flying lap on the Soft tyre, with teammate Sergio Perez all but matching him as the Mexican set a 1:09.492.

Valtteri Bottas slotted in behind the Red Bulls with a time 0.150s away from what Verstappen managed, but a late flying lap from Hamilton on the Soft tyre saw him put in the fastest first and third sector to clock a 1:09.348 to go quickest.

Moments later, still chasing qualifying performance, Hamilton set a 1:09.050 to move 0.367s clear of Verstappen, as the Red Bulls slowed their pace and switched to concentrating on race pace.

Result Free practice 1 - Brazilian

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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While Hamilton's pace ahead of the two Red Bulls gives Mercedes plenty of optimism ahead of Friday evening's qualifying session, it's not all good news for the reigning World Champion.

Hamilton will start Sunday's Grand Prix from a grid slot five places lower than where he finishes Saturday's Sprint Qualifying race, as he has taken on a fresh Internal Combustion Engine.

Hamilton had a somewhat difficult first half of the practice session, complaining throughout about how the front-end was constantly juddering and bouncing across the track surface. One radio message saw him request a "different solution for the front suspension", giving the team something to work on quickly ahead of the introduction of parc ferme conditions.

With his pace far more encouraging by the end of the session, Mercedes now head into qualifying aiming to keep Hamilton as near to the front as possible.

Bottas finished the session in fourth, meaning it was a repeat of Mexico's race result for the 'best of the rest'. AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly slotted in behind the leading quartet, followed by the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were eighth and ninth respectively, with Aston Martin's Lance Stroll in 10th.

Concerningly for McLaren in their battle with Ferrari for third place in the Constructors' Championship, Lando Norris could only manage 15th, with Daniel Ricciardo in 19th. Neither driver used the Soft tyre compound during the session.

Also interesting:

Video: The secrets of the Interlagos Circuit

Follow Rudy van Buren as he takes you on a flying lap around the Interlagos Circuit, home of the F1 Brazilian Grand Prix.

F1 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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