FORMULA 1 star Lewis Hamilton went fastest in second practice for the 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix.

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"You never know what the Red Bulls are doing, but I’m comfortable that we’re there or thereabouts."

Lewis Hamilton after practice in Brazil

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire set the pace in P2 at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil this afternoon (Friday).

Having gone third quickest in first practice, Hamilton clocked a time of 1m 13.392s around the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo.

That placed him ahead of the Red Bull pairing of double F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Vettel recorded a lap of 1m 13.559s and Webber 1m 13.587s.

Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher were fourth and fifth fastest respectively in the practice session.

Brazilian Grand Prix: Technical Specifications

Top speed: 320km/h

Average speed: 210km/h

Pit straight length: 450m

Circuit length: 4.309km

Race length: 71 laps/305km

Number of corners: 15

Longest section at full throttle: 15.9s/1200m

Configuration: Anti-clockwise

Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Jenson Button finished seventh on the practice timesheets behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

“The car felt really good today – on both high and low fuel,” said Hamilton, who is looking to follow his Abu Dhabi GP victory with a second win on the spin.

“And degradation on the new Option tyre seems pretty acceptable; I was still doing decent times at the end of my run.

“I think there’s still a bit more to come, but we’re looking strong for the rest of the weekend.”

The Herts-born 2008 F1 world champion, wearing a specially designed race helmet drawing inspiration from Ayrton Senna, added: “I also felt quite comfortable with the set-up changes we made going into this afternoon’s session, and our long runs seem to be pretty competitive too.

“You never know what the Red Bulls are doing, but I’m comfortable that we’re there or thereabouts.”

Hamilton’s team boss, Martin Whitmarsh, said: “The challenge of Interlagos never diminishes – it really is one of the giants of our sport – and our engineers and drivers relish the challenge of taming such a tricky, unpredictable and idiosyncratic course.

“Today, I think both Lewis and Jenson proved that our car works extremely well on the Prime tyre.

“The performance differential between the Prime and the Option is relatively small this weekend – as a result of Pirelli’s bringing a new soft tyre for the weekend – and Jenson wasn’t quite able to extract the full potential from the Option.”

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal added: “But we’re confident that we can make the necessary changes to his car this evening, and that should leave us in a strong position for the morrow.”

Webber was fastest in P1 on a 1m 13.811s, with Button second (1m13.825s) and Hamilton third on 1m 13.961s.

Qualifying for the 2011 Grand Prix of Brazil starts at 4pm BST on Saturday, with rain likely.

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