Verstappen can keep up late season push with Brazil pole
New champion Hamilton not letting up
Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying
Sky Sports F1, 4pm Saturday
Lewis Hamilton secured his fourth world drivers championship by taking his form to a higher level when the pressure was on.
But now the pressure is off he's not taking his foot off the gas to judge from Brazilian Grand Prix practice times.
Hamilton edged out his teammate Valtteri Bottas in both sessions as Mercedes dominated the first day of running at Interlagos.
The expected thunderstorms never materialised - there was a light rainshower late in the afternoon session - but qualifying could be run on a wet track.
Whatever the weather, Hamilton looks the right price as odds-on favourite for pole position.
In the last nine races Hamilton has missed pole only in Hungary, Singapore and Mexico - three tracks where Mercedes expected to be at a disadvantage.
Italian Grand Prix qualifying was run in horrendous conditions, but Hamilton claimed pole position by an even bigger margin than would have been expected in the dry - 1.2 seconds to be exact.
The man who was second in that session - Max Verstappen - is perhaps of greater betting interest today.
The young Dutchman has won two of the last four races and qualified second in Mexico last time where he was denied late on by a seriously impressive Sebastian Vettel lap.
Red Bull engine supplier Renault have suffered terrible reliability issues recently. Four of the six Renault-powered cars retired in Mexico, although admittedly not all those failures were engine related.
But both Toro Rossos and Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull will be forced to take grid-drop penalties this weekend.
So bad has been the reliability that it is a concern even in qualifying, but Verstappen, like Hamilton, can be fancied in the dry and even more strongly in the wet.
The 20-year-old, who has won three races, has yet to set a Formula One pole position but Red Bull are finishing the season strongly.
M Verstappen fastest qualifier
1pt each-way 9-1 Hills, Sky Bet
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