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Raikkonen leads Ferrari 1-2 to close out Spanish GP practice

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Kimi Raikkonen headed up a one-two finish for Ferrari in the final Formula 1 practice session ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, giving the Italian marque a boost ahead of qualifying.

Ferrari arrived in Barcelona with a handful of updates for its SF70H car, while erstwhile rival Mercedes brought a more significant package to Barcelona in a bid to pull clear at the front of the pack.

Mercedes controlled proceedings on Friday as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished P1 and P2 in both sessions, leaving Ferrari on the back foot.

Raikkonen led a revival for the team on Saturday morning in FP3, turning in a best lap of 1:20.214 to finish two-tenths of a second clear of teammate Sebastian Vettel at the top of the timesheets.

Hamilton was left to settle for third overall, three-tenths off Raikkonen’s best lap, while teammate Bottas only completed six laps after an issue emerged on his car overnight.

Mercedes broke its curfew in order to resolve an electrical issue on Bottas’ W08 car, only to find a water leak that forced the team into a power unit change. The Finn got out on-track with eight minutes remaining in the session.

Ferrari was not immune of problems either as Vettel suffered a loss of power towards the end of the session, forcing him to park up at the end of the pit lane and wait to be recovered by his crew.

Max Verstappen finished fifth for Red Bull ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, the pair appearing to be out of the fight at the front despite the updates brought by the team to Barcelona for the RB13 car.

Nico Hulkenberg enjoyed a solid run to seventh for Renault, finishing ahead of Felipe Massa in eighth, while the Spanish pair of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10 positions.

Qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 8am ET on Saturday.

Hamilton hails ‘greatest day’ after USGP victory, Mercedes title win

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Lewis Hamilton made no secret of his jubilation after taking a giant step towards his fourth Formula 1 championship win with victory in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix that also saw Mercedes clinch the constructors’ title.

Hamilton recovered from an early pass by F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel to take his sixth victory on American soil, five of which have come at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, to extend his lead to 66 points.

With just 75 left on offer this season, Hamilton needs just one top-five finish in the final three races to clinch his fourth world title, with the enormity of the victory not being lost on the Mercedes driver.

“Today has been amazing. It’s been the greatest day,” Hamilton told NBCSN after the race.

“I woke up a bit tired, felt the rain, then was like, ‘What the hell?’ But I didn’t mind. I won here in the rain in the past. Then it dried up, clear blue skies, amazing opening at the beginning of the GP.

“I lost first place into Turn 1. It was OK. That first section, we got through there, and it felt very reminiscent of 2012: ‘Game on. You have to save the tires’, and he wasn’t doing that. I kind of kept my cool.”

“I saw I got a good exit of Turn 1, this was the lap and it was. His tires were dropping off anyway.”

Hamilton’s victory saw Mercedes wrap up its fourth consecutive F1 constructors’ title with three races to spare, with the Briton having played a key part in each of its successes.

“I’m so proud of this team. Big congratulations to the guys, people don’t know the amount of work they do,” Hamilton said.

“It’s over 1,500 people in two factories, so much brainpower and a lot of people to manage to extract the best from each of those.

“To come into a new era of car and perform as we have. There’s been a newfound love within the team. Ferrari, we want to beat them, thrash them.

“So they put more hours of working in to do that. That’s for all their hard work.”