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Vettel tops the time sheets as Ferrari bounce back with 1-2 in second practice

2019-11-15 23:04
SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Sebastian Vettel of

Image: Getty Images

Sao Paulo - Sebastian Vettel topped the times as Ferrari delivered a resounding one-two to prove they are back on form in Friday's second free practice for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix.

The four-time champion German clocked a best lap in 1min9.217 seconds to outpace Charles Leclerc by 0.021 seconds in a close finish to a session that, like the first one, ended with a red flag and two cars off the track.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was third ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the leading Mercedes, six-time champion Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes and Kevin Magnussen for Haas.

Daniel Ricciardo took seventh spot for Renault ahead of Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull new boy Alex Albon, who was fastest and then crashed in heavy rain the morning. Carlos Sainz was 10th for McLaren.

The session saw several incidents in dry conditions as the teams battled to keep pace with the weather, notably the luckless Toro Rosso outfit who lost both cars with engine and electrical problems.

After overnight rainstorms and a wet morning, the second session began in dry conditions with the teams keen to gain some track action as soon as the lights went green. Bottas was soon fastest in 1:10.812, a full six seconds quicker than Albon's best lap in the morning.

After six minutes, the session was red-flagged when Robert Kubica, in his penultimate race weekend for Williams, went off at Turn Three, smashing the front and left rear of his car in the barriers. The action was halted for six minutes and re-started.

Verstappen went top after 15 minutes before Hamilton took over followed by Leclerc and then Vettel, the Ferrari men making the most of his power on the straights as the Italian team responded to their disappointing weekend in Texas two weeks earlier.

After 45 minutes, a flowing and fast lap from Hamilton was upset when he came upon his team-mate Bottas idling on the racing line. "Valtteri was just sitting there," said Hamilton on team radio, as the Finn did much the same to Vettel seconds later.

As the temperature threatened to fall at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, there were more quick times as Ferrari and Mercedes set the pace, pursued closely by Verstappen's Red Bull in the top five.

Hamilton's 'stressful' contract negotiations

With 20 minutes remaining, Pierre Gasly pulled up when his Toro Rosso's Honda engine failed and a brief Virtual Safety Car period was deployed.

That stoppage completed, there were only five minutes remaining when the session ended, like the early opening period, with another red flag when Gasly's team-mate Daniil Kvyat smacked the barriers at Turn 12, the rear of his Honda-powered car bursting into flames.

This brought the session to an end with no further action on track as rescue vehicles cleared away the two Toro Rosso machines.

For Hamilton, loved by the fans at Interlagos where he won his first title in 2008, this weekend held significance as, two weeks after retaining his title, he said he was ready to embark on "stressful" negotiations with Mercedes for a new contract.

His current deal runs out at the end of 2020, leaving him free to talk to anyone else - including rivals Ferrari -- ahead of the introduction of F1's radical formula for the new era from 2021 and beyond.

"I only just did this contract and, already, I have to start talking about potentially the next one, which is frustrating because it is another stressful moment when you have to get into the room, into the ring, and have a friendly, yet intense, conversation about terms," he explained.

"But, I am used to it and I like to think that I am a relatively good negotiator... I think it is just confrontation isn't it? You're both trying to see what more you can get out of it.

"It won't be really stressful to be honest."

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