SAO PAULO (AP) — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen clocked the fastest lap of the first practice at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Verstappen was 0.049 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
Newly crowned champion Lewis Hamilton was third, 0.096 seconds behind at Interlagos.
Practice was run under cloudy weather. Rain is expected during qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was fourth, and will want to be as high as possible in qualifying because he faces a five-place grid drop after replacing his turbocharger for the sixth time this season.
The Australian, who started from pole position in Mexico two weeks ago, also started from the back in Italy and Russia because of penalties.
Overshadowed by a horrific crash involving Sophia Floersch was the fact that 19-year-old Dan Ticktum dominated and won the Macau Grand Prix – a victory that puts him closer to earning the superlicence required to allow him to race with Formula 1, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Ticktum won Macau’s qualification race as well as the Grand Prix, starting first in both events. For his victories, he earned 10 points, which combined with 25 for his runner-up finish in the European F3 Championship leaves him just five below the 40 needed for the license.
This was Ticktum’s second Macau Grand Prix victory.
“It was a dominant performance that I was preparing for,” Ticktum said on his web site. “I don’t think I’ve ever prepared as hard as I did for this race and it all worked out. In the final race a lot of variables were thrown at me but I handled them.”
On his way to victory lane, Ticktum had to survive several restarts including the lengthy red flag period following Floersch’s accident to repair the barrier.
“I can’t count how many safety car restarts we had to do,” Ticktum said. “It puts a lot of pressure on a driver here with such a long run down to the first corner. I can’t remember a weekend when I’ve put it all together so well.
“The car was absolutely perfect all weekend, it was so good and I can’t thank Motopark enough for that. I’ve never been so involved in the set-up, felt so at one with the car as I did this weekend.”