Max Verstappen has confidently topped Friday afternoon practice for Red Bull Racing at the Mexico City Grand Prix while title rival Lewis Hamilton struggled with set-up.
Verstappen’s best time of 1m 17.301s was almost half a second quicker than anyone else. Valtteri Bottas, fastest in the morning session, was next in the order, but the Finn was 0.424s off the pace.
Lewis Hamilton trailed in third and 0.085s further back after a messy session for the reigning champion and 2019 Mexico winner. He had an early lap time deleted for setting a time during double waved yellow flags before destroying a set of hard tires with a lock-up into Turn 1.
He subsequently couldn’t match Verstappen when the low-fuel laps got underway, and his second attempt to reach the Dutchman looked particularly unbalanced, afflicted by small rear snaps throughout.
Mercedes may at least be hopeful that both Bottas and Hamilton were able to squeeze performance from the soft tire over several laps, with Bottas’s best time coming 10 laps into a run on the red-walled rubber.
Sergio Perez was fourth for Red Bull Racing and 0.061s behind Hamilton, the Mexican recovering from time lost to repairs in morning practice.
Ferrari and AlphaTauri competed for honors at the head of the midfield, with Carlos Sainz pipping Pierre Gasly for fifth and sixth. Charles Leclerc was similarly closely matched with Yuki Tsunoda and seventh and eighth, the four separated by around 0.3s.
Sebastian Vettel was a top-10 finisher for the second consecutive session with ninth in the order, and Fernando Alonso slipped into 10th behind him.
Gearbox problems for George Russell 🙁
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 5, 2021
Alfa Romeo teammates Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi sandwiched Lando Norris into 12th as McLaren’s struggles continued, with Esteban Ocon in 14th for Alpine.
Daniel Ricciardo completed just seven laps before a gearbox problem forced him back into his garage, leaving him 15th.
Mick Schumacher got ahead of the race-focused Lance Stroll, and Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin were the last two drivers to set a time, leaving them 18th and 19th.
George Russell was 20th with two untimed laps to his name after succumbing to a gearbox problem shortly after the start of the hour.