Mercedes set pace in Brazilian GP practice

SAO PAULO, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time in practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes appeared to tighten their grip on a fifth straight Formula One constructors’ title.

The 29-year-old Finn posted a best lap of one minute 08.846 seconds at the Interlagos track, just three hundredths of a second quicker than his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was third fastest, 0.073 seconds from Bottas.

“The car felt better than it did in Mexico, but we are still working our way through some issues,” said Hamilton, who secured his fifth drivers’ championship in Mexico City last month.

“The pace doesn’t seem too bad, so we just have to keep working on it and improving it. It’s very close between all of us at the front, but I think there’s more potential in our car, so we just need to try and squeeze it out.”

The session was briefly halted when Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg crashed at the Juncao left-handed turn.

Vettel, who is second in the drivers’ standings, was cautiously optimistic about his chances on Sunday.

“The car’s been OK, but not good yet so still some work to do,” he said. “We are in the ball park but I think we can still launch forward from where we are.”

Mercedes will clinch the constructors’ title on Sunday if Ferrari fail to outscore them by 13 points.

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