Vettel leads Verstappen as Ferrari, Red Bull pull clear in FP2

Image by Glenn Dunbar/LAT

Vettel leads Verstappen as Ferrari, Red Bull pull clear in FP2

Formula 1

Vettel leads Verstappen as Ferrari, Red Bull pull clear in FP2


Sebastian Vettel led Max Verstappen in second practice for the Mexican Grand Prix as Ferrari and Red Bull pulled clear of Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton had been quickest in a close first session but it was Vettel who set the pace in FP2, posting a 1m16.607s. Verstappen was only 0.115s off in second place but it was not a smooth session for Red Bull as Alex Albon crashed early on.

Albon lost the rear of his car on turn-in at Turn 8, and slid backwards into the barrier on the outside of the track, with the right rear making the first contact before the right front was broken against the wall. The incident brought out the red flag for nearly 15 minutes as the car was cleared, and although Red Bull got Albon’s car back there was too much damage for him to run again in the session.

Just before Albon hit the wall, Charles Leclerc had spun at Turn 1 as conditions remained tricky at the high altitude circuit. Leclerc then suffered a much more dramatic incident at the end of the session as he spun at high speed at Turn 9, overcorrecting after catching a snap of oversteer and sliding through the high-speed chicane before managing to recover in the run-off area.

Leclerc was third quickest and 0.4s slower than his teammate after those two incidents, with the lead Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas 0.6s back in fourth. Bottas also had a spin of his own in an incident-filled session, swapping ends at Turn 12 entering the stadium section but being able to rejoin and continue running without suffering any damage.

Hamilton is without his usual race engineer Pete Bonnington in Mexico and Austin due to a medical procedure, and he ended up fifth ahead of the impressive Toro Rosso pair of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly as the Honda power unit appeared to handle the 7,200ft altitude well on Friday. Kvyat was one of a number of drivers — also including Vettel, Carlos Sainz, Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and Antonio Giovinazzi — to run wide at Turn 1 and cut across the grass.

Sainz, Hulkenberg and Lando Norris completed the top 10, with just 0.031s covering Norris, Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo.

Haas continued to struggle with Romain Grosjean 15th and Magnussen 17th, on a circuit where the lower aerodynamic impact makes it tough to get heat into the tires.