Mexican Grand Prix – Max Verstappen topped both Friday practice sessions in Mexico while McLaren’s Lando Norris was closest to the Dutch driver’s time.
There was quite a rush to get out of the pits as the session started as there is a possibility of rain disrupting the practice. George Russell, who was one of five drivers who missed FP1 while rookies took over their cars, led the way out of the pits and opened with a 1:21.618 on the Pirelli test tyre.
The five rookies were Frederik Vesti who was in Russell’s Mercedes, Oliver Bearman in Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, Isack Hadjar taking over Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri, Jack Doohan was in for Pierre Gasly at Alpine while Theo Pourchaire was in Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo but a brake issue meant that the French rookie was only able to complete a few installation laps before the team had to box him for the session to work on the car.
Rain did indeed make an appearance less than ten minutes in as dark clouds loomed overhead, though it was light enough. At the ten minute mark it was very close at the top, Alex Albon having just set a 1:20.075, 0.010 ahead of Max Verstappen while Lando Norris with the third fastest time was only 0.034 seconds slower than the Williams driver’s time. The top three were all on the test tyre.
A quarter of the way through the session Verstappen put on the medium compound tyre and set a 1:19.511 to go a couple of tenths quicker than the best time of FP1.
Just before the halfway point of the session the soft tyres made an appearance which saw Verstappen and Norris get into the 1:18s, the reigning champion with a 1:18.686 while the McLaren racer was just over a tenth slower. Around the same time there was a big moment for Fernando Alonso, the Alpine driver lost the rear and spun at T9. The Spaniard was able to control things enough to keep it out of the barrier and turn it into a 360.
Alonso wasn’t the only Aston Martin to have issues, Lance Stroll was in his garage, blocked by a wall of mechanics, as his front left wheel was apparently stuck on the car. The wheel was eventually removed thanks to a hammer and the Canadian made it back out in the final ten minutes, after more than twenty minutes in the pits.
With fifteen minutes of the session left Verstappen and Norris remained at the top while a few other cars had joined them in the 1:18s – Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez – all in the 1:18.9s with just 0.036 seconds between them.
Albon, who had a great opening practice where he managed to go P2, less than a tenth off Verstappen’s time, ended the second session in the pits after something seemed to break on the floor of his Williams.
The times didn’t change at the end so Verstappen topped the session ahead of Norris while P3-P7 – Leclerc, Bottas, Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton – were all within 0.072 seconds of each other.
Esteban Ocon ended the day P8 ahead of the McLaren of Oscar Piastri. Russell rounded out the top ten with a 1:19.227, just over half a second off Verstappen’s time.