Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first practice for this weekend Mexican Grand Prix. The current world champion was less than a tenth faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel; however as normal Mercedes decided not to use the fastest tyre which is worth a tenth.
Hamilton was .759 seconds ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg who was fifth fastest, Hamilton will be hoping he can keep Rosberg well behind this weekend or even better out of the points if he wants a late resurgence to fight for the title.
The session took place in lower than expected temperatures meaning the track was less gripper than expected. Kimi Raikkonen showed that Ferrari may have the edge this weekend over Red Bull with them well out of their normal position.
To the delight of the Mexicans Force India’s Sergio Perez was fourth fastest ahead of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg. Perez ran for most of the session on the supersoft tyres.
Red Bull had a low key morning with Daniel Ricciardo only eighth on the soft tyre .8 of a second down. But it was different for his team-mate Max Verstappen who missed half of the session after his rear brakes caught fire.
Team boss Christian Horner told Sky F1 “We had an issue with the rear brakes overheating. We had an energy-recovery setting that we were trying that got the brakes a bit out of control and it damaged a couple of the electrical looms. That caused a bit of downtime to get that fixed.”
Valtteri Bottas was .03 of the pace of Hulkenberg on the slower soft compound tyre.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson caused the only red flag, it is believed the Swede hit one of the kerbs with his front wing causing it to disintegrate. The team also believed another part of the car had failed at the same time and stopped running.
However, Ericsson finished thirteenth on the supersoft tyre ahead of Max Verstappen.
However Felipe Nasr managed to return to the track with minutes to go managing to split the McLarens. Fernando Alonso was sixteenth and Jenson Button was eighteen. The team are expected to have a difficult weekend because of the high speed nature of the circuit and the Honda engine doesn’t have the power for the long straights.
Perez, Nasr, Wehrlein, Massa and Magnussen all completed at least one lap with the halo device attached as the FIA continued its track testing of the safety device.