• Brazilian Grand Prix - FP1

Hamilton leads tight first practice session at Interlagos

ESPN Staff
November 23, 2012
Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time on Pirelli's development tyre for 2013 © Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton led a closely fought first practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, which saw the two McLarens and two Red Bulls covered by less than a tenth of a second.

Hamilton's best time of 1:14.131 was just 0.009s faster than championship challenger Sebastian Vettel in second, with Mark Webber third fastest - 0.067s off Hamilton - and Button fourth. However, the times were slightly skewed by several drivers setting their fastest times on Pirelli's development tyres for 2013, which were similar to the this year's hard tyres but are designed to warm up more quickly.

Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest and just about in touch with the top four, 0.216s off Hamilton's best time. He spent a large part of the session testing a new front wing for this weekend's race by running back-to-back comparisons with an older version. Felipe Massa was sixth fastest in the second Ferrari, but caused a yellow flag towards the end of the session when he had a docile spin at Pinheirhino without damage to his car.

Romain Grosjean assumed Lotus's position as best of the rest in seventh, while his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen completed roughly half the running due to an engine issue. Early in the session the team noticed his Renault V8 was not running smoothly and he appeared to continue to have issues after the spark plugs were replaced. He ended up 16th fastest and nearly two seconds off the pace.

Paul di Resta, Pastor Malodonado and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten and were all within a second of the fastest time as Force India and Williams look set for another competitive weekend. Michael Schumacher was 11th fastest as Mercedes ran an old exhaust configuration on both cars to guarantee useful data on the 2013 tyres. The team may run the rest of the weekend without its Coanda-effect exhaust as its focus switches very much to 2013.

At the bottom of the timing screens, HRT completed half the running of their rivals as they looked to preserve spare parts for later in the weekend.

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