Red Bull’s Max Verstappen led a closely-contested opening practice session for the penultimate round of the 2018 Formula 1 season in Brazil.
Verstappen, who dominated much of the Mexican Grand Prix weekend, posted a time of 1:09.011 in overcast conditions at the Interlagos Circuit on Friday.
Verstappen’s time left him just 0.049s clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, while World Champion Lewis Hamilton was third, 0.096s behind the Dutchman, to ensure Formula 1’s top three teams each had a driver represented at the front.
Daniel Ricciardo, who faces a five-place grid drop after taking on a new turbocharger, was fourth for Red Bull, while Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) were fifth and sixth respectively.
All of the front-runners bar Raikkonen set their best times on Supersofts, with the Finn opting to use Softs, while compatriot Bottas was briefly interrupted mid-session as Mercedes investigated an oil leak in his W09.
Haas, fresh from losing its appeal against its Italian Grand Prix disqualification, led the midfield battle, with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen seventh and eighth.
Magnussen did not run during the latter stages of the session after causing substantial damage to his tyres as a result of a lock-up.
Charles Leclerc continued his and Sauber’s encouraging form by placing ninth, while Force India’s Esteban Ocon rounded out the top 10.
Renault took 11th and 12th, with Carlos Sainz Jr. ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, the duo three-tenths behind nearest rival Ocon.
Antonio Giovinazzi finished 13th as he received another outing for Sauber prior to his full-time 2019 seat, while Williams regular Lance Stroll was 14th.
Toro Rosso pair Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley were a low-key 15th and 18th, sandwiching 2019 McLaren racer Lando Norris – in for Fernando Alonso – and Williams rookie Sergey Sirotkin.
McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Force India tester Nicholas Latifi completed the 20-strong field, the Canadian Formula 2 driver 2.482s behind Verstappen.
Friday’s second 90-minute practice session will begin at 15:00 local time