Mercedes dictated the early pace in Mexico, but championship leader Max Verstappen bounced back in the afternoon session to end the opening day on top. The Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton finished second and third, followed by home hero Sergio Perez.
The start of the session saw the majority of drivers opt for the yellow-banded medium compounds, albeit the Mercedes cars kicked off their afternoon work on the hard compound after only using Pirelli’s soft tyres in Free Practice 1. The Brackley-Brixworth-based outfit was quick in the first practice, but found it difficult to replicate that speed in the early part of the second session. Hamilton had a lap time deleted for double-yellow flags, and then locked up on hard tyres while Bottas was unable to set an eye-catching lap time on the white-banded tyres.
When the time arrived for the usual qualifying simulations, Verstappen managed to set the fastest time of the day with a 1m17.301 to go four tenths of a second quicker than Bottas. The Finn’s time was, however, a remarkable result given the fact that he set that after racking up multiple laps on his soft compound.
The Nastola-born driver’s team mate was not satisfied with the balance of his W12, and finished half a second off his championship rival’s benchmark. Home hero Sergio Perez finished fourth, just a whisker behind Hamilton.
While Ferrari drivers made mistakes in the opening session, they had a smoother run in the afternoon. Carlos Sainz finished fifth fastest, but he was over a second adrift of Verstappen. Following his strong showing in Texas, Charles Leclerc completed a total of 28 laps, setting the seventh fastest time. The Monegasque seemingly had issues with the balance of his SF21 over a single lap, but his long run pace was impressive compared to Ferrari’s main rival, McLaren.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly is eager to deliver a good result after his technical woes at the United States Grand Prix. The Frenchman finished P6 in between the two Ferraris with his team mate Yuki Tsunoda ending up eighth fastest. The Japanese driver will face a back-of-grid start on Sunday after taking new PU components just as Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. The Canadian took 17th, but his result is less important as his focus centred around the race setup of his car.
It was not an easy session for Daniel Ricciardo and George Russell with both drivers having endured technical woes which were related to the Mercedes gearboxes in their cars. The Australian, who scored his latest F1 win at Monza in early September finished P15 after only completing seven laps on Pirelli’s hard compound. The Williams racer notched up a total of two laps, finishing 20th without a time on the board.
2021 F1 MEXICO CITY GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE RESULTS (2)