Brazilian GP: Mercedes fear Ferrari are favourites

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Stewards handed the four-time world champion a reprimand for failing to follow instructions, his first of the season, and a €25,000 ($A39,200) fine.

"I'm hoping this weekend we can get the vehicle into the right place and fight the guys, and the Red Bulls and Ferraris who have seemed to come back more into shooting range".

The only other team to do it, Ferrari, will be looking to stop them, however, with the Scuderia needing to score 13 more points than Mercedes in Brazil to keep the constructor's fight between them bubbling along until the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking before Hamilton's comments - which came after the Briton secured pole position - Sirotkin himself did not blame Hamilton for impacting his qualifying, and the stewards have so far not chosen to investigate the incident despite the pair coming close to contact.

"That was some qualifying session", Hamilton said. "I think it's unfair if somebody is pulled in".

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was the previous record holder with his lap for pole position a year ago, was third-quickest ahead of Sauber-bound fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.

"But nevertheless the biggest struggle tomorrow is going to be keeping those tyres alive and not making them blister".

"I think it's the tyre that probably most of us probably wanted to start on but then with the conditions it was a bit tricky [to do it in Q2]".

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Vettel said: "They shouldn't call us".

"However, we are actually quite even in terms of the overall year performance with Ferrari".

"It already feels like we are on race number 25 this year, so I don't think more races is going to be a good thing". And the second one, I was up a tenth until the last corner and then it started to just fall and you're like, "no, no" and it's dropping like one millisecond per 100 metres or whatever.

An increasingly edgy Hamilton managed to cut up Sergey Sirotkin and Raikkonen on the same lap, which was interesting - and may result in a penalty after the incidents have been assessed. Max Verstappen out-qualified teammate Daniel Ricciardo by 0.002s, although the latter faces a five-place grid penalty for the new turbocharger Red Bull fitted to his vehicle on Friday.

"I lost it in Turn Eight", said Vettel.

"Kimi Raikkonen was sixth ahead of Haas" Romain Grosjean.

OUT: Carlos Sainz (Renault), Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso), Fernando Alonso (McLaren), Lance Stroll (Williams), Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren). So it's up to us to find a fix for it and make sure it doesn't happen again, but it's not so simple to find and fix it as it sounds.

"So I don't think I'll be doing him any favours in the sense of giving him a win, I don't think he needs that".

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