Valtteri Bottas outpaced Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes one-two in Practice One at the Mexican GP, on a weekend where the Englishman stands on the brink of winning his fourth world title.
Hamilton has dominated his Mercedes team-mate since the summer break but Bottas was the quicker of the two by a large 0.466-second margin in opening practice, after setting immediate lap-record pace on the ultrasoft tyres.
Red Bull and Ferrari, who are both expecting strong weekends, were over half a second off the pace but did not use the ultrasoft compound, the fastest available this weekend. Their respective cars lapped on the supersofts.
“We don’t know the delta between tyres yet but it looks like we have a race on our hands,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle.
Fresh from a belated apology to the US GP stewards on Thursday night, Max Verstappen was third ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo although lost the final 20 minutes of the session after deciding to make a “big” set-up change to his Red Bull in time for Practice Two.
Ted Kravitz gives his advice on where to go and what to see in Mexico this weekend, supported by FairFX – Sky Sports F1 sponsor
Sebastian Vettel, who must outscore Hamilton by 17 points on Sunday to keep the title fight alive to Brazil, was fifth amid a messy session in which he twice went off the circuit, once across the grass.
Local hero Sergio Perez, whose presence in the field is helping ensure a sell-out crowd for race day, was a promising seventh after pipping McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, although the Spaniard brings a 20-place grid penalty into the weekend.
But Force India’s Mexican tester Alfonso Celis, taking over Esteban Ocon’s car for P1, crashed into the Turn 16 barriers to bring out the red flags in the session’s final quarter of an hour.
On a dusty track surface, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen (sixth fastest) spun as did Sean Gelael (17th) in the Toro Rosso on his latest P1 outing.
Natalie Pinkham is joined by former F1 drivers David Brabham and Perry McCarthy to review the US GP
McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne completed just three laps after the new Honda power unit installed on his car for the session developed a problem and had to be changed.
The Belgian is already destined to start at the back of Sunday’s grid after collecting a 35-place penalty. In addition to Alonso’s 20-place demotion, Toro Rosso’s returning Pierre Gasly has a five-place penalty for new engine elements.
Mexican GP Practice One Timesheet Driver Team Time 1. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:17.824 2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.466 3. Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.571 4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +0.597 5. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +0.762 6. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1.184 7. Sergio Perez Force India +1.416 8. Fernando Alonso McLaren +1.522 9. Felipe Massa Williams +1.619 10. Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1.728 11. Carlos Sainz Renault +1.730 12. Lance Stroll Williams +1.948 13. Kevin Magnussen Haas +2.820 14. Pascal Wehrlein Sauber +3.147 15. Antonio Giovinazzi Haas +3.445 16. Charles Leclerc Sauber +3.622 17. Sean Gelael Toro Rosso +3.815 18. Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso +3.923 19. Alfonso Celis Force India +4.518 20. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren No time
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