Lewis Hamilton finished on top of the time charts at the 2021 São Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil in the first free practice session. Max Verstappen was in second position and Sergio Pérez was in third position at the end of the first free practice session
Formula 1 returned to the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit in São Paulo after two years as the 2020 race was cancelled because of the Covid19 pandemic.
The sixty-minute long first free practice session started under cold conditions with air temperatures at 18 degrees C and track temperatures at 37 degrees C.
There was occasional drops of rain as the session unfolded. This is the third race with the Sprint Qualifying race deciding the grid positions for the race.
This session was very important as the teams had to get ready for qualification on Friday evening and do not have three free practice sessions and plenty of time to find the right setup for the cars.
Hamilton has taken a new Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and will have a five-place grid penalty for the race.
The Pirelli tyre choice at this race is the white-striped hard compound tyres (C2), yellow-striped medium compound tyres (C3), and red-striped soft compound tyres (C4).
The drivers were initially out on the medium and hard compound tyres. On the green track, the drivers were locking up and running wide at the start of the session.
Verstappen was at the top of the time charts and kept going faster with a lap time of 1m10.189s. Hamilton and Pérez then closed the gap but Verstappen was in a class of his own.
Hamilton was complaining about the front suspension and that the front-end was bouncing.
On the qualification simulation, Verstappen went fastest with a lap time of 1m09.417s on the soft compound tyres. Pérez almost matched his team-mate and was only 0.075 seconds slower.
Hamilton then went fastest with a lap time of 1m09.348s. The Briton further improved his time on his next lap and went 0.367 seconds faster than Verstappen.
The reigning world champion was aided by a slipstream on the start-finish straight on this fast lap.
Hamilton had the advantage over Verstappen, Pérez and Valtteri Bottas.
Pierre Gasly was in fifth position ahead of the Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
The two Alpine F1 team drivers, Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were in eighth and ninth positions. Lance Stroll rounded off the top ten positions.
The teams go into the qualification session with a threat of rain hanging over the Interlagos circuit.
2021 São Paulo GP FP1 Results:
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:09.050||31|
|2||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing||1:09.417||+0.367s||22|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Red Bull Racing||1:09.492||+0.442s||28|
|4||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:09.567||+0.517s||30|
|5||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:09.880||+0.830s||32|
|6||55||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1:10.124||+1.074s||31|
|7||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1:10.142||+1.092s||32|
|8||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Alpine F1 Team||1:10.145||+1.095s||27|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Alpine F1 Team||1:10.201||+1.151s||26|
|10||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:10.352||+1.302s||27|
|11||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JAP||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:10.374||+1.324s||33|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:10.413||+1.363s||28|
|13||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||1:10.443||+1.393s||31|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||1:10.587||+1.537s||31|
|15||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:10.610||+1.560s||27|
|16||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:10.885||+1.835s||27|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:10.902||+1.852s||23|
|18||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1:10.938||+1.888s||24|
|19||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1:10.990||+1.940s||25|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||RAF||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:11.342||+2.292s||28|