Vettel: Tough to beat Mercedes

Hope Soto
November 11, 2017

Sebastian Vettel feels Mercedes will "tough to beat" in this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix despite initial hopes Ferrari's Formula 1 auto would be stronger and able to take the fight to Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

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. "It will be great to finish the season with at least one more victory".

But the 32-year-old Englishman put his off-track troubles firmly to one side to end both sessions at the summit of the order ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Overall, we got through what we needed to do.

"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.

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.

Kimi Raikkonen led Ferrari's efforts in third, half a second behind Hamilton and just 0.006s clear of fourth-placed Verstappen.

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

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

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.

After losing the title in Mexico, Vettel said he enjoyed getting back in the auto in Brazil on Friday.

Renault and Toro Rosso, meanwhile had tougher days, including the latter barely posting a lap in the morning after Brendon Hartley suffered another STR-Renault engine failure and the team deciding to sit team-mate Pierre Gasly while it investigated.

"I like driving it was nice to get in a lot of laps today, more quiet on track than off track".

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

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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