Bottas promises improvements after topping times

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas during practice in Sao Paulo November 9, 2018. — Reuters pic
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas during practice in Sao Paulo November 9, 2018. — Reuters pic

SAO PAULO, Nov 10 — Valtteri Bottas promised he and Mercedes will keep on pushing for more performance after topping the times ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a ‘Silver Arrows’ one-two in yesterday's second practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Finn, seeking his first victory in nearly a year since the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, beat new five-time champion Hamilton by 0.003 seconds in a highly-competitive session at Interlagos.

“It was a bit of a mixed day,” he said. “Much better in the afternoon than the morning, which was quite difficult. Then, it was easy to make mistakes and I had a few lockups and aborted laps.

“In the afternoon, I managed to find a rhythm and the pace felt good. It is a short track, though, and the margins are small — it is very close between the top three teams,

“We can’t afford to relax or be satisfied. We know everyone is working hard overnight on their performance so we will keep on pushing as well.”

Hamilton said his car felt better than it was in Mexico where he won the drivers title two weekends earlier.

“We are still working through some issues. Rain is forecast, but I love driving in the rain so that’s not a problem We need to make sure we are quick enough in the dry.”

The Mercedes drivers are seeking to clinch the team’s fifth consecutive constructors’ championship this weekend, knowing that Ferrari need to outperform them by 13 points to keep the title race alive.

Vettel, who was third fastest, made light of the challenge and after some joking said he felt sure he and Ferrari were: “in the ballpark” to make a serious bid for victory on a circuit where he has won three times, including last year.

“We have some work to do on our set-up, but we are thereabouts,” he said.

Bottas clocked a best time in one minute and 8.846 seconds to outpace Hamilton on a sultry and overcast day.

It was the first time Bottas had topped a second practice session since the 2017 Italian Grand Prix and indicated he is in the form to repeat the pole position he claimed for last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo, who will take a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow's race after renewing part of his power unit, was fourth for Red Bull ahead of his team-mate Max Verstappen who had been quickest in the morning’s opening session.

The Dutchman, winner of the Mexican Grand Prix two weekends ago, suffered an oil leak which delayed his participation in the second session.

Kimi Raikkonen was sixth in the second Ferrari ahead of Romain Grosjean of Haas, Charles Leclerc of Sauber, Kevin Magnussen in the second Haas and Esteban Ocon of Force India.

Five of the cars in the top ten were powered by Ferrari engines.

The session began eventfully with Nico Hulkenberg losing control of his Renault and crashing heavily on the ascent to the final corner of the fast and perilous track. He was unhurt. — AFP

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