Brazilian GP: Hamilton tops timesheets in FP1

Defending World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s time of 1m09.050s topped the timesheets in the first of two practice sessions of the São Paulo race weekend, marking F1’s highly awaited return to the Interlagos circuit since 2019.

2021’s championship protagonists continued to make a habit of keeping close together as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen trailed 0.367s behind in second. 

His teammate Sergio Perez lurked behind with a time of 1m09.492s, Valtteri Bottas keeping close to his Red Bull competition in fourth with a time of 1m09.567s.

4 minutes into FP1 saw the confirmation of a five-place grid penalty for Hamilton due to taking a new ICE, his fifth of the season. He’ll start no higher than sixth on Sunday. Both Mercedes and Hamilton will be hoping the weekend runs smoothly here on out. 

Behind the top four, Pierre Gasly flew the flag for AlphaTauri in fifth with a time of 1m09.880s, with the two Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc behind, Leclerc one second behind his teammate.

The Scuderia remained relatively impressive throughout the session, with the two setting purple sectors regularly and sitting in the top three interchangeably. 

The Italian outfit sits clear of the rivals for P3 in the Constructors, with both McLaren drivers outside the top-10 in P15 and P19. 

Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso of Alpine were eighth and ninth respectively, with Lance Stroll of Aston Martin rounding up the top-10 runners with a decent 1m10.352s. 

Gasly and Alonso suffered a close call with less than 5 minutes left of practice to go. The two-time World Champion came perilously close to striking the AlphaTauri before pulling out to run side-by-side down the pit straight. 

Yuki Tsunoda finished half a second down on his teammate in P11, just ahead of four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin and one-time World Champion Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo. 

Antonio Giovinazzi sat behind his teammate, 1.537s behind, in P14.

Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and George Russell finished 17th and 18th with times heading into the 1m10.900s. 

Finally, Mick Schumacher set a time of 1m10.885s to finish P16 and Nikita Mazepin ended 20th with a 1m11.342s lap.

Qualifying ahead of the Sprint Race on Saturday gets underway at 7 p.m. GMT, 4 p.m. local this afternoon.