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Brazilian GP: Hamilton beats Vettel during first practice session at Interlagos


By Berthold Bouman

Lewis Hamilton was fastest during the first free practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace this morning. The 2008 World Champion beat Sebastian Vettel, but only just, as the difference was nine thousandths of a second. Each team was handed two extra sets of the 2013 prototype Pirelli tyres today, Hamilton set his time on the new 2013 tyres, while Vettel set his fastest time on the regular 2012-spec tyres.

Hamilton fastest this morning in Brazil

Mark Webber and Jenson Button were also fast and took third and fourth place, the difference between the pair was just 0.019s, and both were only a few hundredths of a second off Hamilton’s time. While the top four drivers were close together, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who will be fighting with Vettel for the 2012 crown this weekend, was in fifth place, however, he was 0.261s slower than pace-setter Hamilton.

Felipe Massa was sixth for Ferrari on his home circuit, the Brazilian was followed by Romain Grosjean who was the fastest Lotus driver this morning, as his team mate Kimi Raikkonen posted the 16th quickest time. The Finn spent the major part of the morning session in the garage with an engine problem, thus he had a valid excuse to be that far down the order.

Paul di Resta took eighth place for Force India, and Pastor Maldonado and second Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten. Most drivers tried the 2013 prototypes, according to Pirelli, these are similar to the 2012 hard tyre compound, but should warm up more quickly.

Michael Schumacher, who will retire from the sport after the Brazilian Grand Prix, was 11th for Mercedes, his team mate Nico Rosberg was further back in 18th place. Both Sauber drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez were fast this morning and took 12th and 13th spot respectively.

Friday morning driver Valtteri Bottas was a bit disappointing, as he is usually in the top ten, but today he had to be satisfied with 14th place, the Finn was followed by the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo, Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne was 17th in the other Toro Rosso.

Test driver Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was the fastest Caterham driver this morning, he was 19th, his Russian team mate who lost his 2013 seat at Caterham to Charles Pic, was 21st. Marussia driver Timo Glock was 20th, Pic was 22nd.

As usual the financially stricken HRT team were the slowest team on track, Pedro de la Rosa was 23rd and Narain Karthikeyan 24th.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

Brazilian GP: Free Practice 1

Pos  Driver               Team                   Time       Gap
 1.  Lewis Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:14.131
 2.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault       1:14.140   + 0.009
 3.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault       1:14.198   + 0.067
 4.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes       1:14.217   + 0.086
 5.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari                1:14.392   + 0.261
 6.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari                1:14.716   + 0.585
 7.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault          1:14.719   + 0.588
 8.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes   1:14.738   + 0.607
 9.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault       1:15.015   + 0.884
10.  Nico Hulkenberg      Force India-Mercedes   1:15.050   + 0.919
11.  Michael Schumacher   Mercedes               1:15.114   + 0.983
12.  Kamui Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:15.255   + 1.124
13.  Sergio Perez         Sauber-Ferrari         1:15.396   + 1.265
14.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault       1:15.413   + 1.282
15.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:15.587   + 1.456
16.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault          1:15.701   + 1.570
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:16.048   + 1.917
18.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes               1:16.315   + 2.184
19.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault       1:16.460   + 2.329
20.  Timo Glock           Marussia-Cosworth      1:16.506   + 2.375
21.  Vitaly Petrov        Caterham-Renault       1:16.617   + 2.486
22.  Charles Pic          Marussia-Cosworth      1:17.234   + 3.103
23.  Pedro de la Rosa     HRT-Cosworth           1:17.678   + 3.547
24.  Narain Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth           1:17.895   + 3.764
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