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2017 Mexico Grand Prix: Friday Free Practice Round Up

It was a mixed Friday for the Mexican Grand Prix practice with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas the fastest in the first free practice session and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo fastest in the second session.

Free Practice 1

Free Practice 1 got off to an easy start with cool track and ambient temperatures with the early runners kicking up a lot of dust from the track surface. It did not take long for the dust to get hoovered up and it was back to business.

Valtteri Bottas took the honours in Free Practice 1 for the Mexican Grand Prix finishing quickest ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Bottas’ session best time of 1:17.824 was 0.466s faster than Hamilton’s best of 1:18.290.

Both Mercedes drivers set their times on the ultra soft tyre.

Red Bull and Ferrari look to be hiding some pace as both teams only ventured out with the soft and super soft tyres. The latter only running the super soft tyres.

Verstappen was 3rd fastest just over half a second of the benchmark time but had his session cut short after Red Bull decided to make a setup change with 20mins left in the session.

Ricciardo was not far off Verstappen’s pace in the second Red Bull in 4th.

The two Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were 5ht and 6th respectively a bit off the pace but just about within the delta time between the super softs and ultra softs.

Home town hero Sergio Perez finished his session 7th fastest for Force India with a best time of 1:19.240. The same cannot be said for Alfonso Celis who took the place of Esteban Ocon in the Force India. The rookie made contact with the call at Turn 16 coming out of the stadium section. The rear of the car stepped out and spun him, rear wing first, into the barrier. The red flags were brought out to recover the stricken Force India.

Fernando Alonso showed some good pace finishing 8th fastest ahead of the Williams of Felipe Massa. His team mate Stoffel Vandoorne suffered engine issues with Honda having to replace another power unit after starting FP1 with a new power unit. Vandoorne managed to only complete 3 installation laps.

Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault rounded out the top 10.

Brendon Hartley did not have a smooth running session. He ran into some engine trouble halfway into the session. He restarted the engine and returned to the pits and spent the rest of the session in the garage. He finished the session 18th.

Free Practice 2

The session got underway in considerably warmer conditions. The track, however, was still quite slippery and caught out a few drivers.

Daniel Ricciardo topped the session with a time of 1:17.801 on his ultra soft tyre run. Lewis Hamilton was 2nd fastest 0.131s off the pace with a 1:17.932. Verstappen in the second Red Bull just just a few hundredths off Hamilton’s time with a 1:17.964.

Verstappen’s session did come to an early end however, after an issue with the engine was detected. Verstappen fans need not worry as the engine that was used is not his race engine and he should be fine for the race.

The Ferrari pair improving on their pace from FP1 and running the ultra soft tyres this session were 4th and 5th fastest with Vettel leading Raikkonen. 6th fastest was the second Mercedes with Valtteri Bottas.

The top 6 finishers were all covered within half a second.

Alonso continued with his good form showing that the pace in FP1 was not just a one off.

Perez was 8th fastest with Nico Hulkenberg in 9th splitting the Force India’s with Esteban Ocon in 10th.

Few drivers were caught out by the track conditions throughout the session which compromised the running of some. Hamilton was caught out at Turn 11 and flat spotted his set of super softs. That brought an end to his super soft running after just a few laps.

Romain Grosjean spun coming out of Turn 17 a few minutes after the session got underway. The resultant flat spot caused his rear left tyre to delaminate throwing up bit of carbon fibre and Pirelli rubber all over the track on the straight to Turn 1. The red flags were immediately brought out to allow the marshals to clear the track. Grosjean meanwhile made it back to the pits.

Vettel had an unusual problem with his fire extinguisher in the car. He was heard over the radio saying that he felt his feet getting very cold and then he felt burning on his lower extremities. He made it back to the pits and when he got out of the car it was clear that the fire extinguisher had gone off in his car. A clean set of overalls and he was back on track a few minutes later.

Red Bull have looked the most comfortable around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez so far. Their long run pace looks very good while Mercedes are not that far behind. The Mercedes seems a bit kinder to their tyres.

While Ferrari’s race pace was not that far off Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel feels that it could be better and that they still have a lot of work to do before Free Practice 3 and qualifying tomorrow.


Photo Credit: Red Bull Racing Formula One Team

About Ritesh K Bhana

Ritesh likes to think he is a true Tifosi, but he still remains fair to other teams. He supports two other teams which are not Red Bull and McLaren. Follow Ritesh on twitter @Humanshield_1

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