SAO PAULO (AP) World champion Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position at the Brazilian Grand Prix, boosting Mercedes’ chance of winning the Formula One constructors’ championship.
Hamilton clocked a record 1 minute, 7.281 seconds around Interlagos, edging Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 0.093 seconds.
Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was third, and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen fourth.
Mercedes leads Ferrari in the constructors’ championship by 55 points. The Brazilian race is the penultimate GP of the season.
“I’m really happy to be in Brazil,” Hamilton said. “I’ve got (Ayrton) Senna” design on the back of my helmet. I appreciate the love I get here.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who won the Mexican GP two weeks ago, was fifth, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo sixth.
Ricciardo, however, will start five positions behind because of a penalty after his team had to replace his turbocharger for the sixth time this season. The Australian driver, who was on pole in Mexico, also started from the back in Italy and Russia because of penalties.
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Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.
More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.
Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.
He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.
“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.
“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”
Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”