Nate Saunders, F1 Associate Editor 343d

Lewis Hamilton completes Friday double in Brazil FP2

Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton continued Mercedes' strong start to the Brazilian Grand Prix by topping Friday's second practice session ahead of Valtteri Bottas as he had in FP1.

Hamilton, the newly-crowned 2017 champion, cut a relaxed figure during Thursday's press sessions despite reports ahead of the weekend surrounding his tax affairs back in the UK. He showed no signs of those news stories disrupting his first weekend as a four-time world champion, setting an Interlagos lap record -- a 1:09.515 -- in the process to go quickest in FP2.

Valtteri Bottas rounded off the top two on a weekend Mercedes, having already wrapped up both championships with two races to spare, is testing 2018 concept parts. Red Bull and Ferrari alternated the next four positions, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing third quickest behind the Mercedes drivers and ahead of Sebastian Vettel, teammate Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen.

Behind the top six, Force India's Esteban Ocon finished best of the rest at the scene of his first F1 points finish last year. Williams' Felipe Massa, set for his final Brazilian Grand Prix before retiring from F1 for good, was eighth -- an encouraging start for the team on a weekend it could secure fifth in what has been a nervy midfield battle.

Renault had a difficult start to the weekend in FP1 but appeared to have recovered some of its pace for the afternoon session, with Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz finishing either side of 10th-place McLaren's Fernando Alonso. McLaren has struggled at Brazil in its troubled time with Honda and the Interlagos circuit has provided two of the more iconic images of the partnership -- Alonso relaxing in a deckchair in 2015 and then doubling up as a trackside cameraman last year, both after engine failures.

Sergio Perez was 12th for Force India ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, while Williams rookie Lance Stroll finished in 14th, though he will hope to cut the 0.7s deficit to teammate Massa in qualifying.

Romain Grosjean spun during the session on route to 14th, ahead of Toro Rosso pair Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, who are both set for hefty engine penalties this weekend after failures in FP1.

Sauber pair Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson took the next places, with Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi rounding out the order in 20th 2.9s off the pace. Giovinazzi had originally been slated for FP1 but, with rain forecast to hit the afternoon session, Haas put Magnussen in the car for the first 90 minutes to ensure he maximised his time in the car. The rain never materialised and Giovinazzi accumulated 37 laps before the chequered flag fell.

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