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Hamilton draws first blood against Verstappen in Brazil but faces penalty

Hamilton draws first blood against Verstappen in Brazil but faces penalty

F1 News

Hamilton draws first blood against Verstappen in Brazil but faces penalty

Hamilton draws first blood against Verstappen in Brazil but faces penalty

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed taking first practice honours ahead of qualifying for the São Paulo Grand Prix but goes into the weekend knowing he faces a grid penalty.

Mercedes driver Hamilton finished the hour-long session with a lap of one minute 09.050secs, 0.367s ahead of F1 title rival Max Verstappen in his Red Bull, with the Dutchman's team-mate Sergio Perez in close attendance.

Hamilton, though, started the session at Interlagos with a fresh internal combustion engine [ICE}, his fifth of the season, and second above the allocated three as per the regulations.

It means following qualifying later on Friday, the seven-time F1 champion will start the main race on Sunday with a five-place grid penalty.

The early running saw a mix of the hard and medium tyre compounds being used as the teams reacquainted themselves with a circuit last raced on two years ago.

It was Verstappen and Perez comfortably who led the way after the early exploratory laps, with the duo separated by just 0.020s after their medium runs and Hamilton cut adrift in third, 0.849s adrift.

Hamilton, particularly, complained about his front suspension, feeling uncomfortable with the ride height, at one stage taking to the radio to complain: "Please come up with another solution for the front suspension."

It led to the team working for a period of time on the car midway through the session in a bid to resolve the gremlins being felt by Hamilton.

Once the drivers switched to their qualifying simulation runs, Verstappen and Perez maintained their spearhead formation ahead of the field.

The Dutch driver improved from 1:10.198s on the mediums to 1:09.417s on the softs, with Perez again in close attendance just 0.075s down.

When Hamilton finally returned to the track with 19 minutes remaining for his own soft -tyre run, although setting personal bests in the first two sectors, the 36-year-old still finished 0.351s off the pace.

But on a used set of softs on Hamilton's next flying attempt, he managed to find grip, notably in the first sector, to propel him into a 0.069s advantage over Verstappen.

On his third attempt, Hamilton then put daylight between himself and Verstappen by 0.367s, with neither the latter nor Perez able to improve on their first runs.

The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was fourth quickest, half-a-second down, with AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly enjoying his now seemingly traditional fifth-best slot, 0.830s back.

Ferrari pair Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were a second down and separated by just 0.018s in sixth and seventh.

Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were the only drivers in the top 10 not to use the soft-compound tyres, instead setting their quickest times on the mediums and doing well to finish eighth and ninth in close attendance to the Ferraris.

Aston Martin's Lance Stroll completed the top 10, 1.302s adrift, while in the bottom half of the timesheet, McLaren duo Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were a lowly 15th and 19th.

Like Ocon and Alonso, however, they only used the mediums, with Ricciardo 1.940s down, and only Haas' Nikita Mazepin behind him, 2.292s adrift.

São Paulo Grand Prix first practice results

1. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] 1:09.050

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] +0.367

3. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.442

4. Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] +0.517

5.. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +0.830

6. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +1.074

7. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +1.092

8. Esteban Ocon Alpine +1.095

9. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +1.151

10. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +1.302

11. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +1.324

12. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +1.363

13. Kimi Raikkonen [Alfa Romeo] +1.393

14. Antonio Giovinazzi [Alfa Romeo] +1.537

15. Lando Norris [McLaren] +1.560

16. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +1.835

17. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +1.852

18. George Russell [Williams] +1.888

19. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +1.940

20. Nikita Mazepin [Haas] +2.292

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