Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest in second practice ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix after going a tenth faster than Max Verstappen. The four-times champion set his best time on the medium tyre to move ahead of the Red Bull.
Ferrari led the early pace their fastest times in the first fifteen minutes before Alex Albon spun the Red Bull fifteen minutes into the session. The British-Thai driver spun at Turn Seven, which begins the esses sequence and struck the wall with the right-rear corner.
The right-front then took an impact as the car pivoted after the impact, with the session being stopped for eighteen minutes to allow the Red Bull to be cleared. Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest, going three tenths ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Friday practice is never a truly accurate guide to true performance because it is impossible to know in what specification the teams are running their cars and fuel load and engine modes can make a significant difference to lap time.
Bottas must stop his teammate Hamilton from outscoring him by fourteen points to stop the Englishman from taking his sixth world title. Although the world champions believe they could struggle because engine performance and straight-line speed, an area in which they have been left behind by Ferrari this season, is a major contributor to lap time.
Mercedes believe they are 10km/h slower than the Ferrari on the long pit straight and 0.5secs slower in the first sector, which features two straights and the first right-left-right chicane. But they appear to be a tenth faster than the Ferrari’s on race pace.
Toro Rosso emerged as the best of the rest, Daniil Kvyat and Piera Gasly going three and two tenths fastest than the McLaren. At one point the Frenchman was third but struggled to match the teams early pace. Carlos Sainz was eight-hundredths slower, going two tenths faster than Nico Hulkenberg.
Lando Norris rounded out the top ten, a second and seven-tenths off the pace. McLaren’s battle looks to be once again with Renault, Norris was one hundredth faster than the Racing Point of Lance Stroll. The Mexican was just four thousandths faster than teammate Sergio Perez.
Renaults Daniel Ricciardo was a hundred behind, this battle between the French manufacturer and McLaren has been the story of the second half of the season.
Kimi Raikkonen was first onto the soft tyres, and for a while running in the top ten. But the Alfa Romeo was pushed down to fourteenth finishing the session two seconds off the pace. Romain Grosjean was fifteenth ahead of the second Alfa of Antonio Giovinazzi.
Kevin Magnussen, who had an off-track moment at Turn 1 late in the session, was seventeenth fastest in the second Haas, six tenths quicker than the lead Williams of George Russell.
Robert Kubica was just over two tenths slower than his teammate, but his time was easily quick enough to nineteenth place thanks to Albon’s early lap time on mediums putting him last.