- By Andrew Benson
- Chief F1 author
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen headed McLaren’s Lando Norris in Friday practice on the Mexico City Grand Prix.
Verstappen was 0.119 seconds faster than Norris, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc 0.147secs adrift in third.
There had been a few surprises simply exterior the highest three – with Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo fourth and Daniel Ricciardo’s Alpha Tauri sixth.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez took fifth and Lewis Hamilton seventh within the Mercedes, struggling over one lap.
Hamilton, who had a powerful efficiency on the US Grand Prix final weekend with an upgraded flooring on the automobile, stated: “A little bit of a battle within the automobile right this moment. The automobile is night time and day totally different in comparison with final week.
“You simply by no means know what you are going to get with this one, some days she’s nice and a few days she’s not. It’s arduous to extract the lap.
“There is performance there it is just trying to extract it. It is quite peaky this weekend with the aero map or whatever it may be. It definitely wasn’t a fun day compared to P1 in Austin.”
But though Hamilton seemed off the tempo on his qualifying simulation run, the Mercedes was stronger on race tempo, with Hamilton truly quicker than Verstappen on common on his long term.
However, Verstappen set his quickest lap eight or so laps into his high-fuel run, a efficiency sample not matched by his rivals, which suggests the Red Bull will once more be the automobile to beat within the race.
Fastest of all was Norris, whereas the Ferraris sometimes had been the slowest of the main automobiles over a sequence of laps.
But after a detailed race between himself, Verstappen and Hamilton in Austin final weekend, Norris stated he didn’t count on to have the ability to race with Verstappen on Sunday.
“It was a good Friday,” he stated, “a great begin to the weekend. It’s shut. It can swing both method in a short time.
“I did an excellent lap, possibly too good for this early within the weekend. We began the weekend off effectively. We usually all the time do. We have a good suggestion of the place to place the automobile to start with and it is not removed from the place we finish the weekend.
“Still some stuff to improve but to challenge the Red Bull I think is going to be tough around here.”
Verstappen stated: “We look aggressive in order that’s good however there are all the time just a few issues to enhance but it surely was a optimistic begin to the weekend, in all probability a bit bit higher than I anticipated.
“Tyres are very tough to handle in the long term so there are nonetheless just a few issues to work on. It goes to be extremely aggressive over one lap.”
Ricciardo, who had been dissatisfied along with his efficiency within the race in Austin, stated: “Today was enjoyable. I do take pleasure in this place as effectively however I believe the automobile was stable and we made good progress. We appear to be we’re in a great place but it surely’s very shut. I’m very hungry and motivated and it feels good.”
Behind Hamilton, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell accomplished the highest 10, after lacking the primary session whereas Mercedes handed his automobile to younger driver Frederik Vesti.
The one large incident of the session was a high-speed spin for Fernando Alonso in the course of the Esses.
The Aston Martin driver caught it expertly, holding the automobile away from the partitions and popping a gear and getting going once more as quickly because the automobile was pointing in the best path.
But the spin wrecked his gentle tyres and the two-time champion ended the session final as a result of he couldn’t full a lap time on the quickest rubber.
There had been sprinkles of rain early within the session and because it got here to an finish, however not sufficient to cease the drivers from working on slick dry-weather tyres.
In the primary session, wherein Verstappen was additionally quickest, 5 groups used up considered one of their two obligatory younger driver outings.
The quickest of them was Briton Oliver Bearman, a member of the Ferrari driver academy, who impressed within the Haas with 15th quickest time, 4 locations and 0.4secs behind race driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Bearman had a scary second when he obtained the automobile on the kerbs on the Esses and needed to rescue what might have been a crash, however set a quicker time on the gentle tyres on his subsequent lap.
Frenchman Isack Hadjar within the Alpha Tauri was 17th, 1.4secs slower than Ricciardo, forward of Alpine’s Jack Doohan and Vesti within the Mercedes.
Frenchman Theo Pourchaire had a torrid time within the Alfa Romeo, with a succession of braking issues that meant he failed even to finish a flying lap earlier than his session was dropped at a untimely shut.