SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Red Bull’s Sergio Perez lapped fastest in first free practice for the Sao Paulo Formula One Grand Prix at Interlagos on Friday with the top three drivers separated by just 0.008 of a second.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was second on the timing screens, 0.004 slower than the Mexican’s best time of one minute and 11.853 seconds but the Monegasque’s lap was set later in the session when cars had more grip.
Double world champion Max Verstappen, Perez’s team mate, was a further 0.004 adrift.
Red Bull are chasing their 10th win in a row this weekend while Verstappen is seeking a record-extending 15th win of the season. The team and Dutch driver have already won both championships.
The penultimate race weekend of the year is being run to the sprint format, with qualifying later on Friday to determine the starting grid for a 100km race on Saturday that decides the order for Sunday’s main event.
Verstappen has won the previous two sprint races of the season.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was fourth fastest, 0.186 slower than Perez, but the Spaniard will have a five place grid penalty for Sunday’s grand prix after exceeding his engine allowance of three by taking his sixth of the campaign.