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Hamilton Verstappen pending verdicts turn practice into a sideshow

Hamilton Verstappen pending verdicts turn practice into a sideshow

F1 News

Hamilton Verstappen pending verdicts turn practice into a sideshow

Hamilton Verstappen pending verdicts turn practice into a sideshow

Fernando Alonso may have finished quickest in the second practice session for the São Paulo Grand Prix but it was a mere sideshow with F1 holding its breath for the stewards' decisions on Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

The hour-long session at Interlagos was run with a shadow hanging over it given the investigations surrounding the legality of the rear wing on Hamilton's Mercedes and whether Verstappen had broken the rules given his parc fermé handling of the seven-time F1 champion's W12.

For the session, Mercedes was given permission by the FIA to fit a replacement rear wing of the same design given the original part used in qualifying on Friday evening had been impounded by motor sport's governing body.

This season the second practice session across the previous two sprint weekends at Silverstone and Monza has been deemed almost an irrelevance by many observers as the cars are run under parc fermé conditions following Friday qualifying.

The practice, however, remains vital for the teams as it allows them to assess fuel loads, tyres and other parameters necessary for the sprint and ahead of Sunday's main event.

The culmination saw Alpine's Alonso lead the way with a lap of one minute 11.238s, finishing 0.864s clear of Verstappen, both on soft tyres.

Underlining the protocols employed in the session, Alonso's best lap was over three seconds slower than Hamilton's leading time from qualifying.

The Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas waited until 20 minutes into the session before finally taking to the track, albeit part of the run plan according to the team.

The pair languished at the back of the pack for a long period of time before posting quicker laps on the soft tyres late on to elevate themselves up the order.

Bottas finished third fastest, 1.381s down, just over a tenth of a second quicker and one place ahead of Hamilton, with Esteban Ocon splitting the pair in his Alpine, while Red Bull's Sergio Perez was sixth, 1.665s adrift, and the leading medium-tyre runner.

A further sandwiching saw Alfa Romeo team-mates Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen sit either side of Ferrari pair Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc - the latter again on mediums - to round out the top 10, with the veteran Finn 2.117s down.

In the bottom half of the order, birthday boy Lando Norris - celebrating his 22md - was 13th, a place behind McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Haas driver Nikita Mazepin again brought up the rear of the field, 3.671s down.

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