Brazilian F1 Grand Prix: Mercedes-AMG’s Valtteri Bottas Quickest During Friday Practice

The Finn leads by just three-thousandths of a second over his champion teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes-AMG driver Valtteri Bottas set the fastest times in Friday’s free practice sessions for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix. His teammate, now five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton followed in second place and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in third.

His best lap of 1:08.846 came in FP2, and surpassed that of his teammate Lewis Hamilton by three thousandths of a second. Meanwhile, Hamilton this debuted a new helmet to commemorate his fifth world title, won in Mexico, with five stars meant to represent each of his championships.

Both Mercedes drivers led by a narrow margin over their counterparts at rival teams Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, where the prancing horse sandwiches the bulls. Almost a half second separates Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen, both Red Bull drivers leaning closer to Vettel’s time than Räikkönen’s.

Vettel’s focus during practice may have suffered due to a loose item in his cockpit, about which he quipped comically over the radio.

Behind the frontrunners, a rebounding Romain Grosjean leads the midfield, placing his Haas VF-18 just under four tenths behind the trailing Ferrari. Nearest him is Charles Leclerc, almost two tenths behind. Grosjean’s teammate Kevin Magnussen keeps Leclerc company, as does Force India’s Esteban Ocon, both around two tenths off from the Monegasque driver’s best times.

The regular upper-midfielders at Renault struggled to place their cars in the top ten in practice, Carlos Sainz Jr. managing only P14, his teammate Nico Hülkenberg failing to improve in FP2 due to a crash early on that red-flagged the session. As a result, even Fernando Alonso of McLaren laid down better times than either Renault driver, despite his McLaren MCL33 going almost undeveloped since the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

Three test or reserve drivers appeared in FP1, two in place of drivers who will be replaced at their respective teams in 2019.

A full list of each driver’s best times and margin of improvement between sessions can be found below.

  1. Valtteri Bottas/Mercedes – 1:08.846, -0.833 from FP1
  2. Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes – 1:08.849, -0.258 from FP1
  3. Sebastian Vettel/Ferrari – 1:08.919, -0.141 from FP1
  4. Max Verstappen/Red Bull – 1:09.011, +0.328 in FP2
  5. Daniel Ricciardo/Red Bull – 1:09.164, -0.231 from FP1
  6. Kimi Räikkönen/Ferrari – 1:09.412, -0.161 from FP1
  7. Romain Grosjean/Haas – 1:09.769, -0.153 from FP1
  8. Charles Leclerc/Alfa Romeo Sauber – 1:09.943, -0.403 from FP1
  9. Kevin Magnussen/Haas – 1:10.007, -0.229 from FP1
  10. Esteban Ocon/Force India – 1:10.159, -0.202 from FP1
  11. Sergio Perez/Force India – 1:10.320 (No FP1 time)
  12. Pierre Gasly/Toro Rosso-Honda – 1:10.330, -0.604 from FP1
  13. Fernando Alonso/McLaren – 1:10.332 (No FP1 time)
  14. Carlos Sainz Jr./Renault – 1:10.458, -0.204 from FP1
  15. Marcus Ericsson/Alfa Romeo Sauber – 1:10.532 (No FP1 time)
  16. Sergey Sirotkin/Williams – 1:10.569, -0.468 from FP1
  17. Stoffel Vandoorne/McLaren – 1:10.596, -0.856 from FP1
  18. Lance Stroll/Williams – 1:10.662, -0.137 from FP1
  19. Nico Hülkenberg/Renault – 1:10.679, +0.995 in FP2
  20. Antonio Giovinazzi/Alfa Romeo Sauber – 1:10.685 (FP1 only)
  21. Brendon Hartley/Toro Rosso-Honda – 1:10.734, -0.442 from FP1
  22. Lando Norris/McLaren – 1:11.013 (FP1 only)
  23. Nicholas Latifi/Force India – 1:11.493 (FP1 only)