The Mexican produced a 1m11.853s around the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace to outpace Leclerc’s Ferrari by just 0.004s in first practice, with Verstappen just behind in third as 0.008s separated the top three. 

Carlos Sainz, who will serve a five-place grid penalty in Sunday’s grand prix after moving onto his sixth engine of the season in Brazil, was fourth quickest in the second Ferrari. 

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Sainz was only 0.001s quicker than Lewis Hamilton, who was made an honorary citizen of Brazil earlier this week. The seven-time world champion edged Mercedes teammate George Russell to fifth place.

Sebastian Vettel put his Aston Martin seventh on what will be his final F1 race in Brazil, while Mick Schumacher, Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly were all within seven-tenths of Perez as they rounded out the top 10 for Haas, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri respectively. 

The drivers will head straight into qualifying on Friday afternoon with F1’s sprint format returning for the third and final time this season in Brazil this weekend. 

A shorter 100km race will take place on Saturday to determine the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.