Rosberg quickest in first practice for Brazilian GP

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Nico Rosberg has made the best possible start to his Brazilian Grand Prix race weekend by finishing fastest in the first free practice session at Interlagos on Friday morning.

The German currently trails Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 24 points at the top of the drivers’ championship, but managed to edge out the Briton in FP1 today by two-tenths of a second.

However, the real stand-out performance came from 17-year-old Max Verstappen, who finished the session in sixth place during his practice run-out for Toro Rosso today.

As part of the redevelopment work completed at Interlagos over the past few months, new tarmac has been laid meaning that grip levels were very low. As a result, the track continued to improve and come towards the drivers as more laps were completed, resulting in Rosberg and Hamilton exchanging blows at the top of the timesheets.

Ultimately, it was Rosberg who won out, posting a fastest lap time of 1:12.764 to edge out Hamilton and finish almost one second clear of the non-Mercedes drivers.

The slippery conditions caught out a number of drivers on Friday morning, including Verstappen who went off the track on more than one occasion. The biggest loser was Dani Juncadella, Force India’s reserve driver, who crashed into the wall at turn eight with 30 minutes remaining, bringing out the red flag.

Daniil Kvyat also had a few off-track excursions during the session, but managed to hook up a quick lap in the end to finish the session in an excellent third place ahead of Fernando Alonso. In the sister Toro Rosso, Verstappen finished the session in sixth behind Williams’ Felipe Massa.

Jenson Button’s session lasted barely one lap as his car ground to a halt on the entry to the pit lane, while Esteban Gutierrez also failed to post a lap time due to a problem on his Sauber.

Having topped FP1 though, Rosberg will be hoping to continue this form throughout the rest of the weekend, starting in FP2 on Friday afternoon in Brazil. You can watch the second session live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 11a ET.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).