The Mexico City GP FP1 was an eventful one being uneventful. The last outing for the rookie drivers as the season is left with only 2 rounds other than this one. FP2 was another interesting session as George Russell claimed the top spot in there. Lets see what happened in the Free Practice sessions on Friday ahead of the race.
The tyre compounds chosen were the soft C4s, medium C3s and the harder C2s. Many teams faced issues with various engine components. It was definitely a challenge for everyone, especially for the rookie swap ins.
Fines and Amends by FIA ahead of FP1
Red Bull had been in the highlights for quite a while for cost cap breach allegations. The team’s explanation about it was catering reasons, not the best excuse to come up with. An investigation was initiated by the FIA and it was later found that Redbull had overspent by around $200,000. They were fined with $7 Million and 10% reduction in permitted Aero research. Aston Martin were the other team to be fined $145,000 for overspending. The exact cost cap breach by Redbull still isn’t cleared properly by either FIA or Redbull themselves, but Horner assures it had Zero to do with car development. Of course it didn’t!
Sainz leads another consecutive FP1.
Sainz set the top pace, putting him just ahead of Charles by 0.046s, followed by the Redbull pair. Lewis came 5th but could’ve done better if not for the first red flag.
The first to the tracks was the 4 time world champ in his Aston as he sported his Tribute helmet for Dietrich Mateschitz, the late Redbull co-owner. He had supported multiple drivers over the years in their careers.
Seb had the Redbull logo helmet, a tribute to Dietrich Mateschitz. The second outing for Pietro Fittipaldi in Kevin’s Haas was cut short after his car had a white plume of smoke coming out; leading him to retire early on in the session with only 22 min to go, causing a red flag. He pulled over in sector 1 ahead of the pit straight, with an MGU-K failure.
Other drivers also slotted in for their second mandatory Free Practice with Nyck DeVries in GR’s W13, Pietro Fittipaldi in for KMag, Logan Sargeant in Albon’s seat and finally Jack Doohan for Alpine. The redbull duo setting times on Hards but the Ferrari bounced back with softs on the top with Carlos on top followed by Charles, finishing the session only 0.046s behind. The Bulls finished on equal footing with softs, both 0.210 behind Leclerc.
Carlos clocked in an unmatched 1:20:707 sec and set the pace before the session being red flagged after Liam Lawson stopped his AlphaTauri in the stadium as his breaks were fuming and later on a fire on Front left caused the extinguishers to be pulled out. A coincidence? perhaps not, as Gasly has been angry over similar brake issues.
Another Rookie driver had to enter the pits to not look back on track. Alpine called in Jack Doohan after observing hazardous engine data in the fear of losing their power unit like the former two. DeVries and Sargeant had relatively better sessions.
FP1 ended with drivers setting laptimes as follow :
Pos. |Driver no.& name | Team |Laptime |Gap to 1st|Laps
|3||11||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING RBPT||1:20.827||+0.120s||22|
|4||1||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING RBPT||1:20.827||+0.120s||22|
|6||14||Fernando Alonso||ALPINE RENAULT||1:20.899||+0.192s||26|
|7||77||Valtteri Bottas||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:21.083||+0.376s||23|
|8||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:21.120||+0.413s||21|
|9||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI RBPT||1:21.310||+0.603s||25|
|10||5||Sebastian Vettel||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:21.525||+0.818s||24|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:21.762||+1.055s||16|
|12||24||Zhou Guanyu||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:21.820||+1.113s||20|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:21.865||+1.158s||24|
|14||47||Mick Schumacher||HAAS FERRARI||1:21.952||+1.245s||22|
|15||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:22.912||+2.205s||20|
|16||40||Liam Lawson||ALPHATAURI RBPT||1:23.861||+3.154s||19|
|17||45||Logan Sargeant||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:24.246||+3.539s||22|
|18||19||Nyck De Vries||MERCEDES||1:24.582||+3.875s||20|
|19||82||Jack Doohan||ALPINE RENAULT||1:24.615||+3.908s||13|
|20||51||Pietro Fittipaldi||HAAS FERRARI||1:26.766||+6.059s||9|
Leclerc crashes out of FP2 as optimistic Mercedes excel.
A big crash into the barriers for CL16 after losing the Ferrari’s rear bringing out the Red flags. But Leclerc is confident that this won’t hinder his further sessions. Ferrari will be working hard in their garage tonight to get their horse out of the stables tomorrow.
Another extended Practice session for the teams as Pirelli requires data for the 2023 tyre development so that suitable variations can be made. This also implied that teams and drivers couldn’t tweak their setups as they would like.
Drivers Alex Albon, George Russell, Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda were granted compensation time for giving up their seats for rookies last practice session. 45 min were deemed enough by the Race director for the normal tyre runs.
Haas were haunted by Last session’s MGU-K failure as they had to jack their car in the air with an open floor. This led to Kevin’s session being limited to 2023 tyre testing. This also meant a grid penalty for him as he takes new engine component. Do not forget Lance Stroll as he also takes a grid penalty after a huge contact with Alonso in Austin which led to a whole new controversial situation and decisions.
Another Haas of Mick Schumacher was seen drifting and handling his car out of turn 7. A series of drivers pushed the limits at tyre testing but Lewis led the way with 1.5 sec adrift of Russel on normal softs. he might even be looking for a win since the last trip to Austin.
Zhou was ordered to stop by the stadium as he radioed a Hydraulic failure in the closing stages of the session. Alfa Romeo will exit the sport next year, leaving sauber to be sponsored by Audi in 2026.
This concludes the first day at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and the final rookies’ session.