Hamilton tops opening Brazil practice

Autosport

Lewis Hamilton picked up from where he left off in the USA by posting the quickest time in opening practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who is competing in his last race for McLaren before moving to Mercedes, posted the quickest time of the session early on, taking advantage of a set of 2013-spec Pirelli tyres, which all teams worked with in the opening 90 minutes of running.

Hamilton's time of 1m14.131s was only 0.009s better than that of Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull driver's mark set on this year's rubber. Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber was third, also less than a tenth off a second behind Hamilton.

McLaren's Jenson Button was fourth, while championship contender Fernando Alonso finished in fifth position in the Ferrari, albeit over two tenths of a second off the best time.

Felipe Massa was sixth in the second Italian car, with Romain Grosjean, Paul di Resta, Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hulkenberg completing the top 10.

Williams tester Valtteri Bottas was the first man to post a time in the opening minutes of the session, the Finn completing a lap of 1m21.218s that kept him on top until Sergio Perez went over 4s quicker 12 minutes into the session.

The Mexican then found another 2s to post a 1m15.869s.

Fifteen minutes in, Hamilton jumped to the top of the timesheets with a 1m14.374s lap.

Moments later, the 2008 world champion improved to a 1m14.131s that put him nearly 2s clear of the rest of the field and proved enough to keep him on top until the session's end.

Vettel moved up to second place 27 minutes in, posting a time just 0.3s off Hamilton's best while also on the prototype Pirelli rubber. The double world champion improved his time later in the session when running with this year's hard tyres, but he still fell short of Hamilton's time.

With the teams not using the medium tyres at their disposal, the top times stayed mostly unchanged during the remainder of the session.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen missed most of the running as his mechanics worked on his Lotus, the Finn only posting a time with 10 minutes to go after being hit with apparent engine problems.

The struggling HRT team also restricted its running, with Pedro da la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan each managing just an installation lap early on and not returning to the track until there were 35 minutes left on the clock.

The 90 minutes of action were mostly incident-free except for a spin by Massa with nine minutes to go, the Brazilian losing control of his car at Pinheirinho.

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