Mercedes Valtteri Bottas was fastest the first practice session ahead of this weekends Mexican Grand Prix. The Finn was four and a half tenths faster than his teammate Lewis Hamilton with Bottas setting his fastest lap on the ultrasoft tyres.
In recent races, Bottas has failed to match Hamilton but he appears to be on the pace of the Englishman. Going into this weekend, Mercedes were expecting a strong challenge from Ferrari and Red Bull who were over half a second behind.
However, Ferrari and Red Bull chose not to set a fast lap on the ultrasoft tyres so the gap between top three teams remains unclear. Mercedes came into this weekend expecting to be on the back foot, but it appears the circuit is not as bad as they feared.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who lead the pace early on, was third fastest ahead of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. There was little between the Red Bull duo, .02 of a second. However, the Dutchman elected to bring his session to an early end as he wanted to make “big” changes to his car over the lunch break.
It was a messy session for Hamilton’s title rival Sebastian Vettel, who needs to outscore the Mercedes driver by seventeen points, he went off track twice during the session. That left him seven tenths off, but he was four tenths faster than team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in sixth.
Sergio Perez was seventh fastest after setting his fastest time on the ultrasoft tyre. But it wasn’t a smooth session for Force India’s reserve driver and fellow Mexican Alfonso Celis who crash at the final corner bringing out the red flag.
Celis appeared to be carrying too much speed as he exited the stadium, before losing the rear of the car and hit the wall. That damaged the rear of the car.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was seventh fastest, which showed promise from the power unit. However, the Spaniard carries a twenty place grid penalty for component changes to his power unit.
Felipe Massa was ninth fastest ahead of both the Renault’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz, with .02 of a second between them. It was a frustrating morning for Massa’s Williams teammate Lance Stroll, who was just outside the top ten.
The Canadian appeared out of sync with the others who were on high fuel runs when he was doing his hot laps. Hass’s Kevin Magnussen was thirteenth fastest with Antonio Giovinazzi fifteenth, however, the Italian was running a different strategy.
Pascal Wehrlein spilt the two Haas’s with Charles Leclerc fifteenth fastest, narrowly ahead of both the Toro Rosso’s of Sean Gelael and Brendon Hartley.
But it wasn’t a perfect session for the Toro Rosso’s, with Geleal spinning half way through the session and Brendon Hartley, whose car appeared to be suffering from engine issues.
Stoffel Vandoorne, who failed to set a time in his McLaren after the team detected a power unit issue after just three laps