Sebastian Vettel: It will be hard to match Mercedes

Sebastian Vettel: It will be hard to match Mercedes

Newly-crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton topped both sessions ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Vettel's best effort over 0.3s off the fastest time in FP2 and over 0.6s off the fastest time of the day (set in FP1).

Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas was second in both and ended up just 0.048 slower.

"I don't think they are going to ask", Hamilton said when asked if he would follow team orders to allow Bottas to pass.

"The last four races we've had the quickest vehicle on a Sunday", said Red Bull boss Christian Horner after Max Verstappen won in Mexico and Hamilton finished ninth to take the title. He has been working hard throughout the year and is focused more than ever, so I know he wants to do it on his own. "It will be great to finish the season with at least one more victory".

"As you would expect I'm hoping for another damp race weekend as I don't think we can be as competitive there in the dry, especially with the elevation changes on the straight", said Verstappen.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fifth ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull is too far behind in fourth place to catch either.

"I'm not expecting anyone to completely ruin his race for me, so as I said it all depends on the situation".

In a disastrous session for Toro Rosso Pierre Gasly was down in 19th place, completing just five laps, and Hartley suffered an engine failure after two laps.

The Finn is trailing Sebastian Vettel in the standings by 15 points, but with two races remaining, the runner-up spot is still up for grabs.

But Hamilton was blisteringly fast when he switched to the "soft" tyre - more than 0.5secs a lap on average quicker than Bottas, who was comfortably quicker than Ricciardo as the three were all out on track at the same time.

Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas is third overall and only 15 points behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, a four-times victor this year, with Mercedes determined to finish one-two for the fourth season in a row.

Lance Stroll was 11th for Williams, ahead of Mercedes-backed GP3 champion George Russell, who received his first run out for Force India.

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