Lewis Hamilton sent out an early warning shot to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by topping the timesheets in first practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday at Interlagos.
Despite being involved in a minor road traffic accident earlier this week and arriving in Brazil one day later than planned, Hamilton showed few signs of rustiness as he easily gapped the field.
The Briton recorded a best lap time of 1:13.543 to finish half a second clear of Rosberg at the top of the order, leaving the German driver to settle for P2 ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Both Hamilton and Rosberg were continually working on their setups throughout a rather routine first practice session, with both having minor off-track moments as they found the limit of grip around Interlagos.
Ferrari once again established itself as being ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes as Vettel finished just one-tenth of a second behind Rosberg in third place. Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth, four-tenths of a second further back from his teammate despite taking a trip through the gravel late on.
Complete with a newly-upgraded power unit from Renault, Red Bull made a good start to the weekend as Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat ended the session P4 and P6 respectively. Valtteri Bottas finished seventh for Williams ahead of Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen in eighth.
Former Interlagos pole-sitter Nico Hulkenberg ran well to finish ninth ahead of Pastor Maldonado, who rounded out the top ten in FP1 for Lotus. Jolyon Palmer deputized for Romain Grosjean in the sister E23 Hybrid, lapping less than two-tenths of a second shy of Maldonado to finish P12 behind Carlos Sainz Jr.
McLaren had a relatively average session as Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso ended FP1 13th and 16th respectively, split by Felipe Nasr and Sergio Perez.
Home favorite Felipe Massa was unable to match the pace of Bottas in the sister Williams car as he finished 17th ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson. The Manor duo of Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens propped up the order yet again, finishing over four seconds off the pace.
FP2 for the Brazilian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 11am ET on Friday.