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Getting Verstappen harder as F1 fines Hamilton

SAO PAULO – Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton get beat fastest for Mercedes in fact for Sao Paulo Formula One grand opening on Friday after incurring a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The British achieved a best of one minute 09,050 seconds, with Red bull championship leader Max Verstappen second and slower 0.367 at an overcast Interlagos with occasional drops of rain and lots of empty seats in the stands.

Verstappen leads Hamilton by 19 points with the remaining four races including Brazil.

Hamilton received a penalty for an engine change. He complained that the front end of his car was “really poor.”

Red Bull’s Mexican Sergio Perez was third in the timesheet alongside Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, fourth in the day’s only practice before qualifying for Saturday’s sprint.

The 100km sprint yields points for the top three in the 3-2-1 streak, and Hamilton’s penalty will only apply to Sunday’s starting grid.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was the fastest last Thursday Ferrari car by Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

Ferrari regains third place overall from McLaren at the previous race in Mexico and are looking to expand their advantage.

McLaren has its 15th Lando Norris and 19th Australian Daniel Ricciardo, but they are running a different program than the others.

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