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

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

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, of Britain, steers his auto during the first free practice at the Interlagos race track in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017.

Raikkonen got nearest to the silver cars, for Ferrari, with 1m 09.744s, but Verstappen was right with him on 1m 09.750s and Ricciardo and Vettel were close with 1m 09.828s and 1m 09.984s respectively. Brazil will stage the Formula One Grand Prix's penultimate race of the season on Sunday.

The Englishman was quickest in both practice sessions for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday, keeping his word not to be distracted in the second-to-last race of the season. McLaren has struggled at Brazil in its troubled time with Honda and the Interlagos circuit has provided two of the more iconic images of the partnership - Alonso relaxing in a deckchair in 2015 and then doubling up as a trackside cameraman past year, both after engine failures.

"I don't think they are going to ask", Hamilton said when asked if he would follow team orders to allow Bottas to pass.

"As you would expect I'm hoping for another damp race weekend as I don't think we can be as competitive there in the dry, especially with the elevation changes on the straight", said Verstappen.

"This is not an opportunity for us to take our eye off the ball", added the Briton, who was planning on visiting the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru with friends in between the Latin American races.

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The Finn had been closest to the Mercedes duo in the first session but Australian Daniel Ricciardo filled that position later on for Red Bull.

Hamilton has won nine times this year, including five of the last seven, and can still equal the career best of 11 in a season he achieved in 2014.

Hamilton, who accused Renault's Nico Hulkenberg over the radio of risky driving in forcing him wide onto the runoff in the morning, was half a second faster than Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen before lunch.

"I'm not expecting anyone to completely ruin his race for me, so as I said it all depends on the situation".

"Mercedes looked very strong so I think they are a bit ahead, both of them", said Vettel, who has won four times this year.

Lance Stroll was 11th for Williams, ahead of Mercedes-backed GP3 champion George Russell, who received his first run out for Force India.

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