[QODLink]
Formula One

Hamilton sets pace in Brazilian finale

With the world title still up for grabs, Britain's Lewis Hamilton begins his final grand prix for McLaren out in front.
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2012 14:34
Hamilton has upped his game for McLaren just as he is about to move to Mercedes [GALLO/GETTY]

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first practice for the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday, while Formula One leader Sebastian Vettel was second.

Fernando Alonso, the only driver fighting Vettel for the title, was fifth fastest.

Hamilton, in his last race with McLaren, had a lap of 1 minute, 14.131 seconds at Interlagos, .0009 in front of Vettel's Red Bull. Vettel teammate Mark Webber was third in 1:14.198 and Jenson Button of McLaren was fourth in 1:14.217.

Alonso, who tested different wings during the morning session, clocked 1:14.392, finishing ahead of Ferrari teammate and home-crowd favorite Felipe Massa.

Vettel has a 13-point lead over Alonso and needs to finish fourth or better to become F1's youngest three-time champion at age 25. He can also be the first to win three in a row since Michael Schumacher in 2004.

There was just a second separating the top 11 drivers in the first session. Drivers from McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari secured the top six spots.

Hamilton overheating

Teams were given two sets of the prototype Pirelli tires which will be used next year, allowing them to have an idea of what to expect in their 2013 cars.

Drivers used the new tires during most of the morning session, with Hamilton complaining of overheating at times, while Sauber's Sergio Perez - who will be replacing the British driver at McLaren in 2013 - said the new sets had more mid-corner grip.

Hamilton just barely escaped collision near the end of the practice after a Marussia car spun in front of him.

It was a hot and sunny day, but rain was expected for Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race in Sao Paulo. The second practice is later in the afternoon.

Red Bull has won the last three races in Brazil and Vettel finished second last year at Interlagos. The German driver has finished fourth or better in the last six races this year, and two-time champion Alonso hasn't won since the German GP in July.

In addition to crowning the champion, this year's Brazilian GP also marks the end to Schumacher's career for the second time. F1's most successful driver, Schumacher retired with Ferrari in 2006 and returned with Mercedes in 2010, unable to be competitive and managing nothing more than a podium finish earlier this year.

Schumacher had the 11th fastest time in the first session on Friday. 

It will be the sixth time since 2005 that the F1 season will be decided at the Brazilian GP. Alonso won both of his titles at Interlagos in 2005 and '06.

410

Source:
AP
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Referendum on Scottish independence is the first major election in the UK where 16 and 17-year olds get a vote.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Farmers worry about their future as buyers shun local produce and rivers show an elevated presence of heavy metals.
War-torn neighbour is an uncertain haven for refugees fleeing Pakistan's Balochistan, where locals seek independence.
NSA whistleblower Snowden and journalist Greenwald accuse Wellington of mass spying on New Zealanders.
join our mailing list