Nothing to see here, only a smoking Hamilton

Date published: November 10 2018

Mercedes ‘breathered’ a sign of relief while Stoffel Vandoorne had one of those “is it a bird, is it a plane?” moments.

Lewis Hamilton showed off his new 5 star (literally!) helmet courtesy of Bell Helmets – and his five World titles.

Ferrari held the early 1-2 as Sebastian Vettel clocked a 1:08.853 to edge his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

While Vettel led, Hamilton ran into a few problems that meant he was forced to spend time in the pits while some Mercedes personnel worked on the other – and others kept the cameras at bay.

Hamilton was back out on track halfway through the session – “a quick check-up for Lewis’ car and we’ve got the all clear, a breather pipe was dislodged” – and went second on his first flying lap.

The Mercedes driver upped his pace to a 1:08.7 to go quickest.

Quick tyre change in the pits and Max Verstappen, one of the last drivers to post a time, was back out on track and laying down the laps.

There was some bad news for Esteban Ocon as his VJM required a new gearbox meaning a five-place grid drop for the Force India driver.

The team opted to change the gearbox as a precaution having witnessed data anomalies in Mexico.

Stoffel Vandoorne feared he’s hit a bird…. the good news is he didn’t.

Vettel returned to the top of the timesheets with 20 minutes remaining and held onto P1 with a new lap record of 1:07.948.

Hamilton was second, 0.217s down, while Valtteri Bottas was third.

More to follow…