01:06 – Max is in front without control. Two-faced Ferrari, well Leclerc
Max Verstappen, he is always there for everyone. But in these free practices for the Mexican Grand Prix, the usual Dutch dominance was not on display. He didn’t shine at race pace like other times. The gaps are small, and the top 10 are compiled in less than a second: they can be quite impressive qualifiers (here are the times and where to see them). Where maybe it’s a single detail, mistake, or magic that makes the difference. Certainty: McLaren is the second power with Lando Norris, ten behind the world champion.
The Papaya machine is going strong all around, and it shouldn’t get to Piastri’s ninth place very often. Ferrari presents two faces: that of the convincing Leclerc, who is at ease on the flying lap as well as on race pace. Another, less happy, is Sainz who after a tough weekend (first an illness and then a hydraulic accident that saw him lose time in FP1) found himself in 11th place. Nothing is beyond repair, the Spaniard is often motivated in times of difficulty. «It is too early to judge – said Fred Vasseur – we are all struggling a bit in finding the right configurations for cooling».
An essential factor in racing in Mexico, because the high altitude makes the engine and brakes breathe less. The time order must then be explained: because after half the session a little rain started to fall and no one was able to get the times down. This explains why Valtteri Bottas finished fourth in the Alfa car, ahead of household idol Sergio Perez. Or Daniel Ricciardo’s sixth place on AlphaTauri. Mercedes looks far away (Hamilton and Russell in 7th and 10th) but in reality the little data on speed is promising. So we are only at the beginning of a long journey. “Positive start, better than I expected,” Verstappen said. “The track is slippery and it is difficult to manage the tires. “Norris will be very competitive in the playoffs.”
01:00 – Free practice 2 ends, and Verstappen is in the lead
FP2 ends in Mexico City. Verstappen, Norris, Leclerc. This is top 3.
00.52 AM – The rain intensifies
As times increase, the race direction warns that the track is slippery in some sections. Sainz is struggling in only 11th place.
00:50 – Verstappen is struggling a bit
Max’s times weren’t great, and Norris seems to be doing better in terms of race pace. Okay, Leclerc.
00.43am – Mercedes and McLaren performed well at race pace
This is also a constant in recent races: McLaren and Mercedes are better off than Ferrari in terms of speed. Even if Leclerc is giving good signals about consistency.
00.41am – It started to rain
In Mexico City, rain falls a little over a quarter of an hour ago. It will be difficult to improve on time.
00:38 – Race simulations start
Verstappen uses medium-sized tyres, and is focusing on his race speed, which was not exceptional in the first free practice session. Not to Red Bull levels.
00:37 – Top 5 20 minutes before the end
Verstappen, Norris, Leclerc, Bottas, Perez
00.32am – Changes for Leclerc
The anti-roll bar on Charles’ car has been changed, a modification that will change the behavior of the car. He sets the third fastest time behind Norris and Verstappen.
00:29 – Ricardo is fine
The Australian is three tenths behind Verstappen, while Sainz struggles. It’s only ninth
00:27 – Verstappen is ahead of Norris
Verstappen overtakes Norris on the soft tyres. Hamilton is improving too, and qualifying on Saturday at 11pm could be very impressive.
00:25 – Alonso spins
Fernando spun at Turn 9, but managed to keep the Aston Martin on track.
00.24 – Qualifying simulation and Piastri and Albon show
Pole laps are tested in Saturday’s qualifying: Piastri and Albon set times, and now Verstappen will attempt his quick pass.
00:19 – Top 5 after 20 minutes
Verstappen, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Sainz, Bottas.
00:18 – Charles did well in his averages
Leclerc is one tenth behind Verstappen on the same tyre.
00:15 – Verstappen returns to the lead
Put on the yellow tires and come back in front of everyone. At the back is Ricciardo in the AlphaTauri car
Another stunning performance from the Thai Williams team who put themselves 10,000 ahead of Verstappen.
00:09 – Top 5 after 10′
Verstappen, Norris, Albon, Leclerc, Ricciardo.
00:05 – Verstappen’s best time, a few drops of rain are falling
Red Bull World Champion clocks 1’20’085. Light rain in Mexico City, but it looks like passing clouds.
Charles made a good start on the prototype tires, with Norris achieving similar times as well.
00:00 – Off to the second free training
Perez takes off immediately. In Russell’s first laps in Mexico, in the first round he left the Mercedes to the young Visti. Pirelli’s testing on the 2024 tires continues and the riders will try new compounds.
11.48pm – Williams surprise
Albon finished the first free practice in second place behind Verstappen. Williams runs very fast on tracks with low load. It’s not the first time. In Mexico, rarefied air (running 2,200 metres) helps reduce the incidence of winging. For this reason, although the track is very fast, aerodynamic configurations similar to those in Monte Carlo are used.
– Albon ahead of Perez (AFP)
11.36pm – Ready for second free workout
It will be a much more representative session with all the big names on the field after some teams left cars for freshmen.
9.37pm – Usual Max, charged Perez. A difficult return for Sainz. The second free time is at midnight
In the name of Verstappen, as always this season. The world champion dominated the first free practice session of the Mexican Grand Prix ahead of a surprised Albon and a motivated Perez with the support of the home crowd. These are only the first laps around the racetrack dedicated to the Rodriguez brothers but we can already understand the mood: Red Bull is very strong and we still do not understand who the second force could be. McLaren signaled with Norris in fourth. Ferrari didn’t start badly, at least with Leclerc (fifth).
But for Sainz, the return to the track after the illness that kept him in the hotel on Thursday was not easy: he lost about twenty minutes due to a hydraulic leak. When he returned he set the seventh fastest time. It’s not a session of great importance anyway: because tire tests have been done and because there are a lot of young people, these Fp1 games are for beginners: Jack Doohan on the Alps (son of the great Mick, MotoGP champion), Uli Biermann (from Ferrari) On Haas. Danish Frederik Veste in the Mercedes, replacing Russell and Theo Bourchier in the Alfa Romeo.
9.36pm – Top 10 Free Practices
Verstappen, Albon, Perez, Norris, Leclerc, Piastri, Sainz, Ricciardo, Ocon, Stroll.
9.28pm – Verstappen ends the first free practice sessions in pole position
The FP1 trial for the Mexican Grand Prix has ended. Verstappen is fastest, ahead of Albon and Perez. Leclerc is fifth and Sainz is seventh.
9.22pm – Charles had a good time
At the moment, Ferrari appears to be more or less in line with the leaders in terms of race pace. A good start for Leclerc, but it’s still too early to judge.
9.18pm – Albon is very fast
The Williams driver performed well, trailing Verstappen by a few thousandths. Mexico City’s altitude favors very high top speeds.
9.14pm – Race simulation for Leclerc
Charles Leclerc began race simulations using hard tires.
9.12pm – Perez is behind Verstappen
Sergio Perez performed well, three tenths slower than Max, and he wants to give a signal in front of the home fans. It’s only the beginning but it’s a good start. Sainz is in sixth place.
9.08pm – Sainz returns to the track
Carlos returns to the track, and the error is resolved. He’s put on red tires.
9.02pm – Norris sets best lap, Verstappen responds
The British McLaren driver covers a distance of 8 thousandths faster than Verstappen, but he has red tires. Verstappen responds and gives him half a second on the same compounds.
8.59pm – Top five after half an hour
Verstappen, Albon, Leclerc, Perez, Ricciardo. Sainz is still in the garage, and we are trying to fix the problem.
8.53pm – Verstappen flies off
Max is very strong on this track having won in 2021 and 2022. He is the first, even if the difference over Albon is 4 thousandths.
8.49pm – Mechanics work on Sainz’s car
Carlos returns to the pit area, and the mechanics are working on his car to solve the problem. The feeling is that it will take some time. Leclerc, on standard tyres, finished fourth.
8.42pm – Hydraulic problem with Sainz
Carlos has a hydraulic problem, the power steering doesn’t work and he has to return to the pits.
8.41pm – Verstappen in the lead
Max takes the lead with an experimental framework.
8.39pm – Interim Summit 5
Albon, Verstappen, Pertz, Ricardo Leclerc
8.34pm – Perez is off to a good start
A household idol, the Mexican must respond at the critical moment: he is the third fastest player behind Ricciardo and Piastri.
8.28pm – First free training begins
Everything is ready for the first free practice of the Mexican Grand Prix. There will be tire tests for 2024, with the second free practice at midnight. Here’s how to follow the race
7.48pm – Leclerc should forget Austin’s disqualification
6.55pm – Ferrari technical innovations
(By Giuliano Duchessa) In Mexico City, on an elevated track (2,200 meters above sea level), Ferrari is considering countermeasures to allow the engine to breathe. Among the new parts is a hood with larger vents, but it will probably not be installed because the temperatures are not very high. We plan to use the Hungarian version hood. But if conditions require it, the new component is ready to install. Last year at the track bearing the Rodriguez brothers’ name, Rossa struggled on the power unit front.
5.59pm – Sainz drives his car after feeling unwell on Thursday
There was concern about Carlos Sainz’s condition. The Ferrari driver missed media appointments on Thursday, but appeared in the pits for Friday’s free practice. Maybe not at his best, but he’ll still be there.
5.50pm – Verstappen’s bodyguards
5.44pm – How to follow the Mexico City Grand Prix
At 8.30pm, with the first free practice, the Mexican Grand Prix begins, the 19th race of the Formula 1 World Championship. Max Verstappen and Red Bull have already won the drivers’ and constructors’ classifications. Here’s how to follow the race on TV and live.
“Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator.”