Motorsport

Hamilton happy to help Bottas take second

2017-11-11 15:29
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas (AP)

Sao Paulo - Lewis Hamilton completed a perfect record-breaking "double top" in Friday's practice for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, leading his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in both sessions.

The 32-year-old Britain, who clinched his fourth world championship in Mexico two weeks ago, dominated the day and showed no signs of easing off - or any reaction to the controversy about his alleged tax avoidance.

He and Bottas were fastest in the morning's opening session and followed up with repeat performance in the afternoon, Hamilton clocking a best lap in one minute and 9.515 seconds to outpace his team-mate by 0.048 seconds.

Hamilton's quickest lap in the morning was in 1:09.202, a clear margin faster than the qualifying lap record of 1:09.822 set in 2004 by Brazilian Rubens Barrichello of Ferrari.

In a session run in dry, hot, but cloudy conditions ahead of forecast rain, Mercedes led the way as they tested new parts and systems for 2018, the two drivers' form suggesting no let-up in pace.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was third for Red Bull, his car also running a clutch of new items, ahead of four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, Mexico victor Dutchman Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull and Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.

Frenchman Esteban Ocon was seventh for Force India ahead of retirement-bound local hero Brazilian Felipe Massa, in his final home race with Williams, German Nico Hulkenberg of Renault and two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of McLaren Honda.

Hamilton said earlier Friday that while he still wanted to win, he would be happy to obey team orders, if required, to help Bottas overhaul Vettel for the runners spot. But Hamilton said he thought Bottas would prefer to make up the 15 point gap himself.

"Valtteri wants to get it on merit," Hamilton said. "He has been working hard throughout the year and is focused more than ever, so I know he wants to do it on his own.

"But if the team asks me, then for sure! As I said before, my mentality for the last two races is to win - and I have not been told otherwise."

He added that he had eased off two years ago after winning the title at the United States Grand Prix when German team-mate Nico Rosberg won the final races of the season.

"Two years ago, definitely, looking back, you could say the focus was not the same as it had been during the season," he said.

"I genuinely don't like to look back, or I genuinely don't like to live with regret, so it is what it is, but I don't want to be in that position again."

"There are still two races to go. I am still in the same mental frame of mind that there are still races to be ticked off. It wouldn't feel normal to back off at this moment," he said.

"I'm planning to just keep the pressure up exactly the same as it's been all year."

Hamilton drove wearing a repainted helmet sporting four prominent stars to mark his world championship triumphs.

He said that the success of clinching his latest title had not sunk in.

"The reason it's not really sunk in is I've tried to stay in the zone, really," he said.

"I think I can continue winning for a long, long time."

Hamilton's voice was husky but his driving appeared unaffected by the cold he developed during a trek of Machu Picchu in Peru.

"It was raining and it was cold, but I feel good again now. My voice is still not great," the Briton said. "But I'm healthy."

Read more on:    valterri bottas  |  lewis hamilton  |  f1
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