Lewis Hamilton is unsure whether Mercedes can claw back the deficit to Formula 1 rivals Ferrari in time for qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The newly-crowned six-time world champion ended Friday practice nearly three tenths down on the Ferrari duo headed by Sebastian Vettel in fifth place, a tenth behind Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

While Hamilton was pleased with how his sessions panned out, he doubts Mercedes can bridge the gap to Ferrari given the Scuderia’s current power advantage.

“It started out really well so straightaway from the get go we started on a good baseline and we just made a couple adjustments in that short space of time we had in the session and then we’ll do some work tonight to refine it,” Hamilton said.

“It is quite crucial because we only have two sessions ahead of qualifying to get it right and we have to compact it a little bit more and be a bit more precise with the changes we’ve made.

“I don’t know if we have three tenths to get where the Ferraris are,” he added. “Obviously the Ferraris are quick this weekend - or it seems today. They’re generally beating us on the straights so it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out.”

Bottas enjoyed a stronger FP2 than his teammate and was just 0.156s adrift of Vettel’s benchmark, and the Finn believes Mercedes is in better position than the final Friday timesheet suggests.

“I had big traffic in the second run and actually looking at the times it’s pretty close,” Bottas explained.

“With the laps I had I think we look quite competitive, even for qualifying. But still lots more to come. I think considering how the sessions went, it was not too bad.”

Asked who he feels will be the biggest threat out of Ferrari and Red Bull, Bottas replied: “I think they are both going to be really strong.

“Obviously lately Ferrari have always been very strong in qualifying with the power unit, but that’s the situation as it stands now, who knows. They are both going to be there but we will be as well.”

 

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