Sao Paulo: Nico Rosberg finished ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the first practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday.
Rosberg was fastest with a lap of 1 minute, 12.764 seconds at Interlagos, .221 in front of Hamilton. Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso was third, nearly one second behind Rosberg.
The Mercedes drivers are the only two vying for the Formula One title. Hamilton leads Rosberg by 24 points going into the last two races.
The title will not be decided in Brazil because the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi will be worth double points. Hamilton can win his second world title with consecutive second-place finishes or a third in Brazil and a second in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 23.
As they did through most of the season, the Mercedes drivers led throughout the practice, which was run under cloudy skies but on a dry track. Rosberg set the fastest lap with about half an hour left in the 90-minute session.
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari finished fourth and home crowd favorite Felipe Massa, a two-time winner in Brazil, was fifth with Williams. Teenage test driver Max Verstappen of Toro Rosso, who will race full-time next season, was sixth.
Red Bull, which has won four of the last five races in Brazil, ran fewer laps than most of the teams. Daniel Ricciardo was 10th and Sebastian Vettel 14th.
McLaren's Jenson Button, still uncertain about his future in F1 next season, had mechanical problems and was the only driver without a timed lap.
The session was red-flagged with about 30 minutes left because Force India's Spanish test driver Daniel Juncadella crashed into a tire barrier. He was not injured.
There will be only 18 cars again on the grid this weekend as Marussia and Caterham continue to deal with financial problems.
Hamilton is going for his sixth win in a row and 11th in the season, both which would be a first for British drivers. Rosberg has four victories. Neither driver has won in Brazil.
Mercedes has placed 1-2 in 10 of the 17 races this year, and clinched the constructors' championship with three races to spare. It has 14 victories between the two drivers.
It was the first time drivers ran on the resurfaced track at Interlagos, which also has new runoff areas and a new pit entrance and pit exit, all added to improve safety.