Mercedes Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the second practice session for this weekends Brazilian Grand Prix. The four-time world champion was four-thousandths of a second faster than his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas after he set his fastest lap on the supersoft tyres.
Hamilton set the pace early on showing despite sealing the world title he is not backing off and the row around his tax affairs from the Paradise Papers aren’t holding back his speed, with him setting the fastest lap around Interlagos.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest a quarter of a second slower than the Mercedes with the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel fourth three tenths down on Hamilton’s Mercedes. But, on the long runs there appeared to be only a tenth between the two four-time world champions.
Hamilton went into this weekend wanting to keep momentum on his side after learning from 2015, when he relaxed allowing his momentum to go to Nico Rosberg. That allowed him to build momentum in the final three races, and onto his title the following season.
But he has the form after being not only fastest on single lap pace, but also on race simulations. Sebastian Vettel, who was fourth fastest and three tenths down, appeared to have similar pace to Hamilton on the long runs.
Force India was best of the rest with Esteban Ocon seventh and Williams Felipe Massa, who looks set for his final home race, eighth ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso tenth.
Again it is shaping up to be a very tight midfield battle this weekend, with Force India, Williams, McLaren and Renault all looking to be within a tenth of each other.
That will be good news for Renault as they were struggling with reliability problems during first practice, the team found some pace with Nico Hulkenberg ninth and Carlos Sainz eleventh.
Fernando Alonso’s McLaren rounded out the top ten. Over the past two years, Honda has struggled at Interlagos but it appears as they are in that very tight midfield battle.
Force India’s Sergio Perez was twelfth fastest ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Williams Lance Stroll. Stroll finished fourteenth fastest seven tenths off the pace. Haas’s Romain Grosjean spun on his way to fifteenth, which put him ahead of the Toro Rosso’s Pirre Gasly and Brendon Hartley.
It was a frustrating session for the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson who skidded off a Pinheiriho and hit the barrier. He managed to get his car back to the pits, but took no further part in the session and was a tenth slower than team-mate Pascal Wehrlein.
Antonio Giovinazzi borrowed Kevin Magnussen’s Haas for FP2 and was 20th and last.