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Hamilton claims Sprint pole at Interlagos


Despite his handling issues earlier, Hamilton was able to edge out title rival Verstappen by 0.367s, which must surely give the Briton and Mercedes some much-needed optimism moving forwards.

However, taking on a new ICE means Hamilton goes into Sunday facing a 5-place grid drop, consequently he much finish tomorrow's Sprint as near the front as possible, the grid for that particular event being decided over the next hour.

Red Bull didn't appear unduly worried by Hamilton's pace, which, it must be admitted, was largely down to the tow he received from Mazepin on the pit straight.

Indeed, looking across the field a great many drivers are likely to be relying on a helping hand over the weekend.

Gasly was best of the rest again, just ahead of the Ferraris however, it was the McLarens that really surprised, finishing the morning 15th (Norris) and 19th. That said, like the Alpine pair, the Woking due didn't run the softs.

Also looking good were the Alpines, and to a lesser extent the Aston Martins, while the Alfa Romeos looked a possibility for Q2.

Ahead of Q1, the air temperature is 16 degrees C, while the track temperature is 26.1 degrees. It is cool and overcast. Even though rain isn't anticipated, many of the locals in the stands are wearing their plastic raincoats.

There was some drizzle in free practice but nothing significant. Race control is not predicting anything for the next hour.

In the moments before the green light there are a dozen mechanics working on Perez' car like worker ants.

Meanwhile, following a number of incident earlier, Michael Masi has sent out a directive warning of track limits at the exit to Turn 4.

The lights go green and the Ferrari pair lead the way, followed by the Haas duo, Gasly and Russell.

Leclerc sets the benchmark, the Monegasque crossing the line at 10.780. Teammate Sainz responds with a 10.487 and Gasly with a 10.062.

All are on softs.

Verstappen heads out as does Perez., while Alonso, Tsunoda, Ocon and the Mercedes pair look on.

Norris posts a 9.537 to go top, ahead of Stroll, but both are demoted when Verstappen bangs in a 9.329.

Perez can only manage 9.591, which puts him third.

A 9.674 sees Ricciardo go fourth, as the Mercedes pair head down the pitlane.

Hamilton goes quickest in S1, 0.2s up on his Mercedes teammate. He maintains the pace in S2, finally crossing the line at 8.824. Game on!

Bottas stops the clock at 9.329, thereby putting Verstappen in a Mercedes sandwich.

Mazepin having all manner of problems at Turn 13 but somehow holding it all together.

"Double cool," Stroll is told.

Ocon goes seventh with a 9.925, but is demoted when Gasly goes third, ahead of Bottas, with a 9.347.

A 9.135 sees Leclerc go second. However, as his time is deleted, teammate Sainz takes his place with a 9.046.

"That was a mega lap," the Spaniard is told.

As Tsunoda goes fifth, Bottas is demoted to sixth.

On 4-lap old softs, Hamilton goes quickest in S1 before seeming to abort the lap, only to go quickest again in S3 and thereby raise the bar with an 8.733.

A 9.238 sees Bottas improve to third.

With 4:10 remaining, Russell, Schumacher, Giovinazzi, Mazepin and Leclerc fill the drop zone, with Latifi, Vettel, Stroll and Raikkonen hovering.

The McLaren pair have the track to themselves. Norris improves to seventh (9.365), while Ricciardo subsequently fails to improve and remains tenth.

Leclerc goes third with a 9.155.

Russell goes 14th, but is demoted when Vettel goes ninth. Latifi also improves, which is bad news for his Williams teammate.

Stroll goes 13th, while Giovinazzi goes 6th and Raikkonen 13th.

Ocon goes 12th as Bottas posts 9.040 to go second.

Quickest is Hamilton, ahead of Bottas, Sainz, Leclerc, Perez, Verstappen, Giovinazzi, Gasly, Tsunoda and Norris. For the second successive weekend, both Alfa are through to Q2.

We lose Stroll, Latifi, Russell, Schumacher and Mazepin.

The lights go green for Q2, but there is no rush to work.

Almost three minutes in, the Mercedes pair break the deadlock, followed by Verstappen and the AlphaTauris. Perez follows, the Mexican on used softs.

The Alfas are also on used softs.

Hamilton sets the benchmark, crossing the line at 8.659, however his time is deleted for exceeding the limits at Turn 4.

Consequently, Verstappen goes top with an 8.567, ahead of Gasly (8.903), Bottas, Ricciardo, Perez and Norris.

An 8.939 sees Leclerc go third, as Hamilton begins another flying lap. He goes quickest in S2, crossing the line at 8.386 to go quickest by 0.181s.

Bottas improves to third with an 8.699.

With 5:00 remaining, the Mercedes pair are the last to head back to the pits ahead of the final assault. Currently, Ocon, Tsunoda, Vettel and the Alfa pair comprise the drop zone.

Alonso fails to improve and remains ninth, as Hamilton goes quickest in S1 (again).

Ocon improves to tenth, but is it enough.

Leclerc goes fourth and Perez sixth, and Norris seventh.

Hamilton consolidates his top spot with an 8.068, while Bottas goes second with an 8.426.

Quickest is Hamilton, ahead of Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Gasly, Perez, Norris, Sainz, Ricciardo and Alonso.

We lose Ocon, Vettel, Tsunoda, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi.

Check out our Friday gallery from Interlagos, here.


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