Brazilian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton completes practice double over rival Nico Rosberg

Hamilton must finish ahead of Rosberg this weekend

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Lewis Hamilton edged out Nico Rosberg to complete a timely practice double over his championship rival at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday.

Hamilton, who is 19 points behind Rosberg in the championship, knows that he must finish ahead of his Mercedes team-mate here to take the title tussle on to the final round of the season.

And the Briton, a back-to-back winner at the last two races in the United States and Mexico, got his weekend off to the ideal start by topping the order in both sessions at Interlagos.

Hamilton, who was more than two tenths of a second faster than Rosberg in the morning, finished the day 0.030 seconds clear of the championship leader.

Rosberg, 31, will win the title on Sunday if he claims his third straight victory here, but, as has been the case in the past two grands prix, the German would appear to have work to do to usurp his in-form team-mate.

But such is his championship advantage over Hamilton, who is sporting a one-off crash helmet in tribute to his hero Ayrton Senna this weekend, Rosberg can afford to finish second and third at the final two races and still beat his team-mate to the title.

The threat of bad weather for the rest of the weekend however, will come as good news to Hamilton. Heavy rain is forecast for qualifying and the race, too which will provide an element of unpredictability that could play into Hamilton's hands.

Jenson Button won the title so memorably here back in 2009, but Sunday's race is likely to be his last in Brazil. The McLaren driver, who hosted his annual dinner for the British media earlier this week and will not be racing next season, was 10th fastest on Friday.

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Rosberg is 19 points ahead of Hamilton (Getty)

His team-mate Fernando Alonso was forced to park his McLaren at turn three with an electrical problem.

The Spaniard provoked a social media frenzy in Brazil last year as he sunbathed on a deckchair after a mechanical issue prevented him from taking part in qualifying. And this year the McLaren driver provided more amusement as he briefly operated a trasckside television camera.

Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, who is competing in front of his home fans for the final time ahead of his impending retirement, were third and fourth fastest, with the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen fifth and sixth respectively.

Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari team announced on Thursday night that they have launched an appeal following the German's post-race demotion from third to fifth at the recent Mexican Grand Prix. Vettel, the four-time world champion, finished seventh one place ahead of his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Jolyon Palmer's future at Renault has been extended into a second campaign, but the British rookie was only 19th here, three places behind his team-mate Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen will join American team Haas next season. Although the move has yet to be confirmed it is understood the Danish driver has agreed a multi-year deal.

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