Lewis Hamilton fifth in final practice ahead of bid to stave off winless season

Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in first practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix as the Mercedes driver bids his odds to keep his unique winning record alive.

Heading into the penultimate round of the 22-race campaign here in Interlagos, seven-time world champion Hamilton is facing up to the prospect that he will end the season without a single victory for the first time in his career.

The 37-year-old, who won so brilliantly in Brazil last year, believes the short venue in Sao Paulo will offer him a greater chance of winning than at next weekend’s final race in Abu Dhabi.

But the British driver ended the final action before qualifying later on Friday trailing both Red Bull and Ferrari drivers.

But the 22-year-old returned to his McLaren for opening practice and finished 15th.

Interlagos is playing host to Formula One’s third and final sprint round of the campaign.

Qualifying, which determines the grid for Saturday’s shortened race, takes place at 4pm local time (7pm UK). The finishing positions of Saturday’s 24-lap dash sets the starting places for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

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