Red Bull Racing's Mexican driver Sergio Perez pipped Charles Leclerc to top the opening practice for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix with freshly crowned double world chamion Max Verstappen taking third.
With the Sao Paulo Grand Prix weekend featuring the sprint format, the opening practice took on greater importance than the usual Friday programme, with only 60 minutes available for teams to understand and fine-tune their cars ahead of qualifying at the technical Interlagos circuit.
After drivers spent the early stages gathering data on the hard and medium tyre compounds, drivers started to sample Pirelli’s red-walled compound in preparation for qualifying.
Despite deciding for a relatively early run on the softs, Sergio Perez set the benchmark with a time of 1m11.853, edging Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc by just four thousands of a second. Double world champion Max Verstappen finished in P3 by only eight thousands of a second adrift of his Mexican teammate.
It was extremely tight behind the top three with Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell ending the session within three tenths of a second behind Perez.
Sebastian Vettel put his Aston Martin seventh with Mick Schumacher, the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly rounding out the top 10 positions.
There was nothing to chose behind the top ten with Fernando Alonso leading this group. Williams appeared to be in good form with Alexander Albon finishing the session in a promising P12 while his teammate Nicholas Latifi set the 17th quickest lap.
Behind the Canadian was Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu, followed by Yuki Tsunoda, who seemed to struggle for grip in the one-hour session. McLaren’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo completed the field, which was covered by 1.5 seconds around the 4.309km venue.
|1||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:11.853||28|
|3||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:11.861||+0.008s||27|
|7||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:12.157||+0.304s||29|
|8||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:12.314||+0.461s||26|
|9||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:12.466||+0.613s||30|
|10||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:12.467||+0.614s||31|
|11||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:12.554||+0.701s||24|
|12||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:12.633||+0.780s||28|
|13||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:12.705||+0.852s||29|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:12.759||+0.906s||25|
|15||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:12.955||+1.102s||27|
|16||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:12.997||+1.144s||24|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:13.019||+1.166s||31|
|18||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:13.115||+1.262s||29|
|19||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:13.347||+1.494s||31|
|20||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:13.359||+1.506s||27|