F1: Vettel admits Mercedes looking 'tough to beat' in Brazil

Kristopher Nichols
November 11, 2017

Newly-crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton topped both sessions ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Vettel's best effort over 0.3s off the fastest time in FP2 and over 0.6s off the fastest time of the day (set in FP1).

Red Bull's Mexican GP victor Max Verstappen was the only driver to set a laptime in the first 10 minutes - but his initial benchmark was quickly surpassed by the soft-shod Mercedes of Bottas, the Finn ending his first run on a 1m10.102s laptime.

"Now the pressure is kind of off, we can go and enjoy these next couple of races", said Hamilton after Mexico.

Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth fastest, though is set to be handed a 10-place grid penalty after taking on a new MGU-H, his eighth of the campaign.

Team principal Christian Horner said Red Bull had played it safe due to reliability concerns and the need to make the engine last.

Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas is third overall and only 15 points behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, a four-times victor this year, with Mercedes determined to finish one-two for the fourth season in a row.

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Gasly managed just one timed lap, and five in total, before he was sidelined by another MGU-H issue, while Hartley suffered an on-track engine failure during the early stages of the session.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who had an early spin, was sixth and fourth respectively.

"Mercedes looked very strong so I think they are a bit ahead, both of them, then I think it is very close between us and Red Bull", he said. Will team orders come into effect at Mercedes?

Vettel, who led the majority of this year's championship battle before his charge imploded in the Far East, faces a battle to finish the season as best of the rest behind Hamilton with Bottas now breathing down his neck.

"The last four races we've had the quickest auto on a Sunday", said Red Bull boss Christian Horner after Max Verstappen won in Mexico and Hamilton finished ninth to take the title.

"I think the track was in pretty good shape and I think car-wise we can fine tune the balance and that should help us get the pace up for qualifying and the race".

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