Max Verstappen headed a Red Bull one-two in first practice for this weekends Mexican Grand Prix. The Dutchman was four tenths faster than his teammate Daniel Ricciardo with the Renault’s of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg a second behind.
This weekend Red Bull are looking to be in the mix at the front because the high altitude of Mexico City should offset the gap that the team has to be in the mix with Mercedes and Ferrari. Renault power certainly has had a good start, as they occupied the top four.
Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time for the leading two teams in fifth, but the four times champion was eight tenths faster than his title rival Sebastian Vettel who was seventh. However, the leading four cars didn’t set real pace laps in the latter part of the session.
Hamilton can be crowned as champion on Sunday if he is seventh or higher. But the constructors cannot be settled this weekend.
Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen’s morning appeared to focus on an upgraded aero package, however, the new package didn’t appear to offer the team the step up in performance they were looking for.
The Scuderia was forced to revert back to the Monza spec, after struggling to get upgrades to work in the last four races. However, they have brought a new floor. Ferrari appeared to focus on performance rather than outright pace.
Brendon Hartley was best of the rest in ninth, the Toro Rosso driver less than a tenth off Raikkonen. However, it wasn’t plain sailing as the car of teammate Pierre Gasly only completed installation laps with another new version of Honda’s upgraded engine.
That meant the Frenchman only managed installation lap with the new engine fitted at the start of the session, he will also be hit with a 15-place grid penalty due to the swap.
Nicholas Latifi was in action on track, the Canadian drove in place of Esteban Ocon, outpacing his teammate Sergio Perez by three hundredths off a second. Also outpacing his teammate was Antonio Giovinazzi, three-hundredths of a second faster than Marcus Ericsson.
McLaren’s Lando Norris, standing in for Fernando Alonso in the first session as the team prepare for his debut next season, was fifteenth fastest, seven hundredths quicker than team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
Haas where also off their normal pace, Romain Grosjean was thirteenth and was half a second faster than teammate Kevin Magnussen. The Haas team will be looking to gain points following the exclusion of Magnussen and Grosjean’s retirement in Austin.
Williams duo Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll rounded out the times in eighteenth and nineteenth, with two tenths between them.