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Hamilton thrilled by high speeds at Interlagos

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Brazilian Grand Prix
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton was exhilarated by the higher speeds that he was able to run at Interlagos on Friday in free practice for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton set a new circuit track record in FP1 when he completed a lap of the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in 1:09.202s. The previous track record - 1:09.822s - had been set by Rubens Barrichello back in 2004.

It's a reflection of how much faster the cars are since the most recent changes to technical regulations last winter.

"It was pretty exciting to come to the track with the cars being so much faster this year," said Hamilton. "It's physically more demanding than before which is great. And it's obviously quite warm out there today."

Hamilton was fastest in both sessions, with his team mate Valtteri Bottas second each time. However, he was under no illusion that Mercedes were streaking away from their rivals.

"Unfortunately, the tyres don't really last very long," he noted. "You only get one or two laps on the short runs.

"Overall, we got through what we needed to do. We're in a decent position - but I think it could be quite close."

Like his team mate, Bottas also reported a positive day on Friday.

"I think both the short runs and the long runs in both sessions looked positive for us as a team," said the Finn. "We have a good starting point for the weekend.

"Still, we were a little bit struggling to get the set-up right for each corner of the circuit," he commented. "However, I was really enjoying this track and I'm looking forward to the weekend."

Mercedes' chief race engineer Andrew Shovelin noted that the team had spent part of the day trailing some development items intended for next year's car, the W09.

"We had been putting off that work while we were still fighting for the championships," he said. "It was very good to get that done. We have collected a lot of good data from those tests which will all feed into the development programme for the W09.

"It was great that it stayed dry," he continued. "It was really good to get some long run work done in the hot conditions both in FP1 and FP2 as it looks like we will have similar track conditions on Sunday.

"Overall, the cars are working well but it's been tricky today in the windy conditions. Both drivers struggled to put their lap together on the super-softs.

"There are a few areas that we need to work to improve the car but it's been a solid start to the weekend," he concluded. "We're looking forward to a good fight with the Red Bulls and Ferraris."

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