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Mexican GP 2018

OCTOBER 26, 2018

Practice 2 Report - Way ahead

Max Verstappen
© RV Press

By Dan Knutson

The Red Bull drivers were way ahead of the competition in Free Practice 2 for the Mexican Grand Prix. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were a full second quicker than their nearest rival which ended up being Carlos Sainz in the Renault. But all was not well at Red Bull as Verstappen’s car lost all power in the closing minutes of the session.

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 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.

Verstappen was fastest in FP1, turning a 1:16.656 on Pirelli’s hyper soft tires. The other slick compounds for the weekend were the super soft and the ultra soft.

Gasly’s car had a new Honda engine - albeit an old spec - installed during FP1 and the break, and he was first out in FP2.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Centigrade).

As he did in FP1, Raikkonen clocked the first time in FP2 - a 1:20.027. He was on the super soft tires. Vettel was running the same rubber as Ferrari got in some long runs early in the session. Vettel got down to a 1:19.007.

Hartley had a moment in the sun as he took the lead with a 1:18.928 using the hyper softs. But Perez beat that, and then Verstappen beat Perez by clocking a 1:17.437 on the ultra soft tires.

Hamilton locked up his brakes and went straight at the end of the main straight, but he got the Mercedes back on track.

Ricciardo, also on the ultras, moved into second place but was half a second slower than Verstappen. Perez, Hamilton. Bottas and Hartley rounded out the top six at the half hour mark.

“What we’re seeing here is that it might be a challenge to get through to Q3 on just the ultra soft tire tomorrow. The hyper soft has a notable speed advantage, but of course doesn’t last as long,” Pirelli tweeted.

Vettel was one of the first to try a qualifying run on the hyper softs, and he ended up 0.517 of a second adrift of Verstappen. Raikkonen flat spotted his tires on his qualifying sim and ended up fourth before being pushed down as Sainz slotted into second and Hulkenberg into fifth.

Bottas struggled on the hyper soft tires, and was only eighth. The same was true for Hamilton who wound up sixth.

Now, as the session approached the midpoint, Verstappen emerged on the hypers. He clocked a 1:16.720, which was 1.2 seconds faster than Sainz who was currently second.

“All over the place,” Verstappen radioed. “The engine is not doing what it should do. We need to look into this.”

Ricciardo’s qualifying run yielded a 1:16.873 to move into second place.

So, with many of the drivers having now completed their simulations, the order was Verstappen, Ricciardo, Sainz, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Hartley, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Bottas and Perez.

Most drivers now started doing long runs on used tires in the final third of FP2. The hyper soft tires were proving to be quite fragile.

The top 10 remained unchanged with the Red Bulls way ahead.

But with just 10 minutes remaining, Verstappen pulled off the track at the end of the straight and parked when his engine just cut out.