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Mexican GP 2018

OCTOBER 26, 2018

Practice 1 Report - Dusty

Max Verstappen, United States GP 2018
© RV Press

By Dan Knutson

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez was a dusty track as the drivers circulated around in Free Practice 1 for the Mexican Grand Prix. Last year's race winner Max Verstappen topped the lap times in the session while his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo was second quickest.

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Red Bull TAG Heuer – Ricciardo and Verstappen; Racing Point Force India Mercedes – Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes –Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin; Renault – Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz; Toro Rosso Honda – Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly; Haas Ferrari – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; McLaren Renault – Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Sauber Ferrari – Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc.

The reserve drivers participating in FP1 were: Lando Norris in Alonso's McLaren; Antonio Giovinazzi in Leclerc's Sauber; and Nicolas Latifi in Ocon's Force India.

Perez, in the other Force India, was looking forward to his home grand prix.

"Racing in Mexico is the highlight of the season for me," he said. "The excitement each time we go back there is the same. When I see the busy grandstands, I feel very proud and the support from the people is fantastic. The energy of the crowd really motivates me and the drivers' parade is always a very emotional moment.

"The circuit is a big challenge," he said of the 17-turn 2.674-mile (4.304 km) track. "Because of the altitude, the track is slippery with low grip levels and it's very easy to make a mistake or lose time. The long straight is usually your best chance for overtaking, but with these cars it's never easy to pass."

Pirelli's slick compounds for the weekend were the super soft, ultra soft and hyper soft.

Norris was first out in FP1.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Centigrade).

Ferrari was again trying the chassis updates it first tried in Austin. And Verstappen had a new floor on his Red Bull.

All the drivers except the Mercedes duo did an install lap or two in the early going.

Fifteen minutes into the session Raikkonen became the first driver to commence a flying lap on the dusty track. He clocked a time of 1:19.798. Vettel was the second, and 0.102 seconds quicker than his teammate. Both were on the hyper soft tires.

Just before the half-hour mark Perez took the lead with a time of 1:19.469.

More drivers were circulating now, and that started the dusty track cleaning process. Verstappen proved that by turning a 1:18.588, and then Hamilton beat that with his 1:18.268. Ricciardo topped that with a 1:17.932. All ran the hypers.

At the 40-minute break the top 10 were Ricciardo, Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Sainz, Perez, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg and Giovinazzi. Only Gasly had not clocked a time as his car was undergoing an engine change.

After the action resumed, Raikkonen had a quick spin at Turn 6.

With half an hour to go, nobody had beat Ricciardo's time, but the top 10 had been reshuffled: Ricciardo, Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen, Hartley, Perez, Giovinazzi, Grosjean and Ericsson.

But then Ricciardo improved to a 1:17.738, and Hulkenberg jumped up to third place and Sainz to fourth.

Verstappen ran the hyper soft tires to get down to a 1:16.656. Ricciardo improved but was 0.483 of a second behind his teammate.

The dusty session wound down, and the top 10 at the end of FP1 were: Verstappen, Ricciardo, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hartley and Latifi.