Mexican Grand Prix Practice: Red-Hot Red Bulls Lead the Way

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are more than a second up on their nearest—and surprising—competition.

byJames Gilboy| PUBLISHED Oct 26, 2018 6:15 PM
Mexican Grand Prix Practice: Red-Hot Red Bulls Lead the Way

Red Bull Racing's drivers topped Friday’s free practice for the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix.

As one of the hottest tracks on the calendar with the race being held at the highest altitude, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez poses a tremendous setup challenge for every team, and Red Bull is so far coping the best. Max Verstappen posted the fastest times in both morning and afternoon sessions, his teammate Daniel Ricciardo was right behind with less than two-tenths in the latter session, but just over two-tenths when comparing the pair's best times.

Red Bull Racing

The 2018 season's typical frontrunners Mercedes and Ferrari struggled in the extreme conditions, the former's drivers doing no better than fifth and sixth in the morning, and the latter fourth and eighth in the afternoon. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton appears to be on track to lock down his fifth world title this Sunday (for a second time in Mexico in two years), despite a rough start to the race weekend.

A dark horse contender in practice has been Renault Sport F1, which normally hovers around the mid- to upper-midfield finishing positions, but its drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hülkenberg were third- and fifth-fastest respectively in practice Friday. Whether they can maintain this form in qualifying Saturday or the Grand Prix itself has yet to be seen.

Another surprise comes in the form of Brendon Hartley. Not only did the Kiwi improve his times by a larger margin than any other driver between sessions, his times plop him sixth in the practice charts, almost a second up on his Red Bull-bound teammate Pierre Gasly.

Homeland hero Sergio Perez of Force India founders in tenth, the gatekeeper of points-scoring positions. Scarcely more than two-tenths separate him from possible podium contender Sainz Jr., which should set up one of the hardest-fought midfield battles of the season for the rest of the weekend.

A full index of each driver's best times can be found below.

  1. Max Verstappen/Red Bull - 1:16.656, +0.064 in FP2
  2. Daniel Ricciardo/Red Bull - 1:16.873, -0.266 from FP1
  3. Carlos Sainz Jr./Renault - 1:17.926, +0.027 in FP2
  4. Sebastian Vettel/Ferrari - 1:17.954, -0.792 from FP1
  5. Nico Hülkenberg/Renault - 1:18.028, +0.018 in FP2
  6. Brendon Hartley/Toro Rosso-Honda - 1:18.061, -0.963 from FP1
  7. Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes - 1:18.075, +0.025 in FP2
  8. Kimi Räikkönen/Ferrari - 1:18.133, -0.803 from FP1
  9. Valtteri Bottas/Mercedes - 1:18.140, -0.182 from FP1
  10. Sergio Perez/Force India - 1:18.167, -0.957 from FP1
  11. Esteban Ocon/Force India - 1:18.485 (No FP1 time)
  12. Romain Grosjean/Haas - 1:18.733, -0.543 from FP1
  13. Charles Leclerc/Alfa Romeo Sauber - 1:19.024 (No FP1 time)
  14. Pierre Gasly/Toro Rosso-Honda - 1:19.047 (No FP1 time)
  15. Nicholas Latifi/Force India - 1:19.078 (FP1 only)
  16. Stoffel Vandoorne/McLaren - 1:19.096, -0.620 from FP1
  17. Lance Stroll/Williams - 1:19.219, -0.923 from FP1
  18. Marcus Ericsson/Alfa Romeo Sauber - 1:19.312, +0.010 in FP2
  19. Sergey Sirotkin/Williams - 1:19.335, -0.564 from FP1
  20. Fernando Alonso/McLaren - 1:19.543 (No FP1 time)
  21. Lando Norris/McLaren - 1:19.646 (FP1 only)
  22. Kevin Magnussen/Haas - 1:19.670, -0.183 from FP1