Mexico, FP1: Verstappen tops first practice in Mexico City
Rosberg in trouble
Teenager Max Verstappen set the fastest time of the opening practice session for Mexico’s first grand prix in 23 years.
The Toro Rosso driver set a time of 1:25.990 late in the session as the damp conditions that prevailed at the start of running improved. The Dutch driver finished 0.305 seconds ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen third, with an identical time to Kvyat’s 1: 26.295.
Early morning rain saw drivers begin the session in damp conditions and with the newly laid surface still settling the track was severely lacking in grip. Thus most drivers opted for intermediate tyres in the opening stages. After initial exploratory laps, Raikkonen set the first time of the session, a 1:37.169 after 12 minutes.
The brief wet weather tyre phase of the session saw Williams’ Valtteri Bottas at the top of the order with a time 1:31.868 and 20 minutes in to the session the Finn was also the first to decide the crossover point had been reached as he emerged on medium compound slick Pirelli tyres. He again made the running with his first lap of 1:32.489. He then lowered the benchmark to 1:30.678.
With the half hour mark reached and the P130 tyres handed back the Finn led by half a second from champion elect Lewis Hamilton with local hero Sergio Perez third, 1.3s down on Bottas’ time.
The lack of grip on the remodelled circuit was still catching drivers out, however, with most running wide at various points through the fast and flowing ‘Esses’ as they attempted to find the limits of the conditions.
When running started again Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo rtose to the top ahead of Bottas and Hamilton, with Kvyat fourth and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg fifth. As the hour mark approached, the Mercedes driver made their mark, however, and Nico Rosberg rose to the top of the timesheet with a time of 1:28.399, with Lotus recently announced 2016 drive Jolyon Palmer second ahead of Ricciardo. Bottas then return to P1 before Rosberg further lowered the benchmark to 1:27.226.
The German was soon in trouble, however, and in the stadium section he went off and returned to the Mercedes garage with flames coming from the brakes on both sides of the rear of his car. Team-mate Hamilton was quickly advised to cool his brakes.
Rosberg’s absence then allowed Kvyat to move to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:27.181 and the Russian then went half a second clear at the top with a better lap of 1:26.663
With ten minutes left in the session, Raikkonen then set a lap of 1:26.877 to go second behind Kvyat but then Verstappen popped up with his lap of Verstappen moves to the top of the order with a 1:25.990 to take spot.
|01||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso Renault||1:25.990||38|
|02||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Renault||1:26.295||27|
|05||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault||1:27.185||28|
|06||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||1:27.196||19|
|07||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Mercedes||1:27.303||26|
|08||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso Renault||1:27.410||37|
|09||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:27.581||19|
|10||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||1:27.695||24|
|11||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||1:27.723||27|
|12||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:28.498||27|
|13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus Mercedes||1:28.559||30|
|14||Felipe Nasr||Sauber Ferrari||1:28.579||25|
|15||Jolyon Palmer||Lotus Mercedes||1:28.711||24|
|16||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India Mercedes||1:29.099||16|
|17||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||1:30.072||17|
|18||Alexander Rossi||Manor Ferrari||1:30.619||23|
|19||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda||1:32.091||9|
|20||Will Stevens||Manor Ferrari||1:32.866||11|