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Max in P1 after first day in Mexico: 'Positive start to the weekend'

Published on 28 October 2023 by Misha van der Kroon

Max Verstappen was the fastest in the second free practice session of the Mexican Grand Prix. Lando Norris in his McLaren set the second fastest time, and Charles Leclerc in his Ferrari ended the session in P3. At Mexico City's Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Valtteri Bottas in his Alfa Romeo and Max's teammate at Oracle Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, completed the top five.

“There are always a few things to improve,” Max says after FP2 in Mexico. “But overall I think it is a positive start to the weekend, probably better than I had expected, so that’s always good.” He continues: “The track is very slippery, like always here. In the long run, the tyres are very difficult to manage as well, so there are still a few things that we can work on.”

Looking ahead at the rest of the weekend, Max says: “Tomorrow it’s going to be incredibly competitive over one lap, but the racepace is a different story.”

At the start of the second free practice session, the air temperature has risen to 25 degrees, whereas the track temperature has dropped to 39 degrees compared to the first practice session earlier on the day. There are some clouds and there is a 20% chance of rain. After five test drivers took place behind the wheel in FP1, we see all twenty regular drivers back in their cars for the second practice session. 

When the lights turn green at the end of the pitlane, it’s immediately busy on track. Again the prototype test tyres from Pirelli are used on which all drivers have to complete a number of laps. Max is one of the last to leave his garage, and joins the others on track with the test tyres. In his warm-up lap he reports that it is raining a little bit, and in his first flying lap he puts his RB19 in P1, ahead of Norris's McLaren and Alex Albon's Williams in second and third places. The track temperature is still high enough, so the rain causes no problems yet.

After ten minutes, Albon sets the fastest time, one hundredth faster than Max, who drops to P2. In the meantime, Max has gone back to the pits and it seems to stop raining. When Max returns to the track, he reports that there is a tear-off on the rear suspension. This however does not stop him from taking over P1 from Albon again. He does so on the medium compound.

After twenty minutes, Oscar Piastri is the first driver to put a set of softs on his car. Albon and Sargeant soon follow his example. Piastri sets a fast time on the clock and briefly puts himself in P1. Fernando Alonso, on a flying lap, shoots off track in the second sector and does a full 360, but manages to keep his Aston Martin clear of the wall. The Spaniard pits for a new set of tyres. In the meantime, Max has clocked another fastest lap, this time on the soft tyres, and takes back P1.

Behind Verstappen in P1 and Norris in P2, Daniel Ricciardo is surprisingly in P3, which will for sure put a big smile on his face. Unfortunately, he does not stay there for a long time, as Perez sets a faster time on the clock, and a little later Leclerc and Bottas as well. Ricciardo drops back to P6. Fernando Alonso is told by his team that they expect rain, which seems to be confirmed by the darker clouds gathering above the circuit. Max has just started a long run on a set of medium tyres, when Sargeant and Russell report over the radio that it’s raining. The team of Mercedes responds that heavier rain is to be expected in the next few minutes. The heavy rain however does not fall. And as the whole field seems to be focussing on long runs in preparation of Sunday’s race, the times on the clock are also not being improved, which brings an end to the first day in Mexico.

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Results second free practice Mexico:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:18.686 26
2Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:18.805+0.119s31
3Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:18.952+0.266s33
4Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:18.955+0.269s33
5Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:18.988+0.302s29
6Daniel RicciardoRICAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:19.002+0.316s31
7Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:19.024+0.338s30
8Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:19.077+0.391s29
9Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:19.163+0.477s31
10George RussellRUSMercedes1:19.227+0.541s31
11Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:19.257+0.571s34
12Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:19.290+0.604s34
13Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:19.415+0.729s27
14Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:19.446+0.760s23
15Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:19.535+0.849s29
16Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:19.642+0.956s29
17Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:19.900+1.214s26
18Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:20.075+1.389s17
19Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:20.112+1.426s30
20Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:20.426+1.740s30