|© AP Photo/Eric Gay
Lewis Hamilton emerged as the quickest driver in the first practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday, edging Sebastian Vettel by just nine-thousandths of a second.
Fresh from his victory at the United States GP last weekend, the McLaren driver set a time of 1 minute 14.131 seconds around the Interlagos circuit in what was a closely-matched session at the front.
Mark Webber was third in his Red Bull ahead of Jenson Button in the 90 minute session run in warm and sunny conditions.
Practice began with several drivers running the two sets of 2013 prototype tyres supplied by Pirelli for the outing, allowing them to have an idea of what to expect in their next year’s cars.
Drivers used the new tyres during most of the morning session, with Hamilton complaining of overheating at times, while Sauber's Sergio Perez said the new sets had more mid-corner grip.
Hamilton escaped a collision near the end of the practice after a Marussia car spun in front of him.
Title contender Fernando Alonso tested different wings and was fifth, 0.252 seconds off chief rival Vettel’s pace. The Ferrari driver was ahead of teammate and local driver Felipe Massa.
Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, Paul di Resta of Force India, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hulkenberg rounded up the top ten, all within a second of the leading time.
Competing in his final Grand Prix of his illustrious career, Michael Schumacher was 11th in his Mercedes just ahead of Kamui Kobayashi, who Sauber has replaced for next season leaving the Japanese driver without a race seat for 2013.
Williams surprisingly did not run Bruno Senna on his home turf, opting to replace the Brazilian with test and reserve driver Valtteri Bottas for the session.
Kimi Raikkonen had a few issues with his car and lost some time in the garage as mechanics worked on his Lotus. The Finn’s time was only 16th fastest from the 16 laps he managed.
HRT however completed only 28 laps in all with both its drivers during the outing. In contrast, Maldonado completed 38 laps alone.
With inputs from AP