Brazil practice 1: Lewis fastest
LEADER OF THE PACK: Lewis Hamilton was fastest - on prototype tyres - in the first practice session at Interlagos.
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Lewis Hamilton prepared to leave McLaren on a high by setting the fastest time in first practice for the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday, November, 23, 2012.
The Briton, who took his 2008 Formula 1 title at Interlagos and arrived in Brazil after winning the US Grand Prix in Texas last Sunday, lapped the anti-clockwise layout with a best time of 1min14.131sec in sunny but hazy conditions.
VETTEL'S THE FAVOURITE
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, the championship leader who is favourite to clinch his third successive title on Sunday, was second fastest and just 0.009 off Hamilton's pace.
However the 25-year-old German set his time on this year's Pirelli tyres while Hamilton's came in a test of 2013's prototype rubber.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Vettel's only title rival but 13 points off the lead, was fifth on the timesheets and 0.261 slower than the quickest McLaren.
Pirelli motorsport head Paul Hembery told BBC: "The 2013-spec tyres here are a bit of a hybrid. It is the hard compound but the structure is different, the tyres weigh 1kg more.
"It is a chance for the teams to gain some data because the cars are not adapted to this product. The information so far has been positive. The quickest times of the day have been on the prototype."
Australian Mark Webber and McLaren's Jenson Button were third and fourth with Alonso's Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa sixth.
Spaniard Alonso must finish on the podium on Sunday to have any hope of taking his third title while Vettel will be champion regardless of other results if he can secure fourth place or better.
Hamilton is moving to Mercedes next season, a team that has been largely uncompetitive this year with its only highlight Nico Rosberg's win in China.
The Briton acknowledged after arriving in Brazil that Sunday's race will be emotional, possibly also his last chance in a while to stand on top of the podium. He intends to go flat out to get there.
Michael Schumacher, the seven-times world champion who is retiring for the second time on Sunday, lapped 11th fastest for Mercedes.
The 43-year-old German had a special message for his fans on his helmet: "Life is about passions, thank you for sharing mine."
First free practice session of the 2012 Brazilian F1 GP from Interlagos:
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1min14.131sec
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1min14.140
3 Mark Webber Red Bull 1min14.198
4 Jenson Button McLaren 1min14.217
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1min14.392
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1min14.716
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1min14.719
8 Paul Di Resta Force India 1min14.738
9 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1min15.015
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1min15.050
11 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1min15.114
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1min15.255
13 Sergio Perez Sauber 1min15.396
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1min15.413
15 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1min15.587
16 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1min15.701
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1min16.048
18 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1min16.315
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1min16.460
20 Timo Glock Marussia 1min16.506
21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1min16.617
22 Charles Pic Marussia 1min17.234
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1min17.678
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1min17.895
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