Mexican Grand Prix – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was untouchable through the second practice session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, but his car ended the session on the back of a tow truck.
Max Verstappen led the way right throughout the ninety minute practice session at the Mexican circuit. With track temperatures significantly higher than the morning session, around 45 degrees celsius, tyres were very much the focus of attention in FP2. Grip was a big problem, with plenty of sideways moments, brake lock-ups and off-track excursions for plenty of drivers. However, Verstappen was in command throughout as the Red Bull didn’t appear to be struggling to the same extent as the likes of the Ferraris and the Mercedes drivers.
Verstappen’s best time of 1:16.720 was set on the HyperSoft tyre, some 0.153 clear of his teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Interestingly, tyres didn’t seem to be the only differentiator for the Red Bull boys, as Renault were also very strong. Carlos Sainz finished the session in P3, 1.2 seconds down on Verstappen but just ahead of the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel by just a single thousandth. Nico Hulkenberg finished in P5, meaning four of the top five cars were Renault powered – their power deficit down the main straight clearly negated by the higher altitude of the Mexican circuit.
However, while performance was there for Red Bull – reliability wasn’t. Heading into Turn 1 in the final ten minutes, and deep within his race simulation, Verstappen skated across the grass as his car went into full shutdown. Just like Ricciardo’s race ending failure in Austin last weekend, Max’s car just switched off completely while at full speed. He pulled over safely and climbed out, with his time remaining unbeaten until the end. Speaking at the end of the session, he said that there’s no concern from his side over the weekend, as the team say it was a hydraulic issue that shouldn’t necessitate an engine change.
Brendon Hartley continued his recent strong run of form by finishing in P6, even ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. Merc appeared to struggle just as much as Ferrari on the HyperSoft tyres, while also struggling for grip on the SuperSofts. Kimi Raikkonen finished P8 in the second Ferrari.
Valtteri Bottas was P9 for Mercedes, with hometown hero Sergio Perez P10 for Force India.
Outside the top ten, Esteban Ocon was P11 for Force India, 0.3 clear of Haas’ Romain Grosjean. Charles Leclerc finished P13 for Sauber, Pierre Gasly P14 for Toro Rosso and Stoffel Vandoorne P15 for McLaren.
The bottom five was Williams’ Lance Stroll, Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber, Sergey Sirotkin’s Williams, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.