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Mexico, FP1: Bottas tops first practice in Mexico City

Ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen


By Olivier Ferret

5 November 2021 - 19:39
Mexico, FP1: Bottas tops first (...)

Valtteri Bottas topped a Mercedes one-two in the opening practice session for this weekend’s FIA Formula One World Championship Mexican Grand Prix with the Finnish driver beating title-contending team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.076s as championship leader Max Verstappen finished third for Red Bull, a little over a tenth of a second off the pace.

Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez has been rarely used in recent times and when running got underway the surface was extremely dusty and low on grip.

And early on the tricky conditions caught out Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s home hero Sergio Pérez. Both drivers lost control as they headed into the last part of the Foro Sol stadium section and spun backwards into the barriers but while Leclerc suffered minor damage, Pérez hit the wall harder, breaking the rear wing. He limped back to the pits and when his team removed the floor of his car it looked like he would be sidelined for some time.

On track, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly led the way in the wake of the Leclerc/Pérez crashes with a soft tyre lap of 1:20.316s set just after the quarter-hour mark. Hamilton then appeared but he too struggled in the conditions and a front right lock-up approaching the first corner caused him to go off track. And in returning he failed to go to the left of the bollard in Turn 2, and was placed under investigation for failing to rejoin safely.

Verstappen then moved to the top of the order with a hard-tyre time of 1:20.214 but he was ousted from P1 by who posted a soft-compound lap 1:20.085. Verstappen beat that with a later tour on the white-banded tyres but Hamilton raised the stakes again to reclaim top spot with a lap of 1:19.781.

Soon after the half way the field switched to new softs for early performance running. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz stole top spot with a lap 1:19.470 before Bottas emerged to take P1 1:18.834. Verstappen then moved ahead with a lap of 1:18.464 but Bottas went for a second run and set the best time of the session with a lap of 1:18.341. With just over 10 minutes remaining, Hamilton slotted into second, 0.076s slower than Bottas, leaving Verstappen with third place, 0.123s behind the Finn.

Pérez rejoined the action in the last third of the session and gradually worked his way up to fourth at the flag ahead of Gasly, Sainz and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso. Leclerc also returned to the fray and ended up eighth ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who rounded out the top 10.

01 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:18.341 28
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:18.417 24
03 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:18.464 28
04 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:18.610 20
05 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:18.985 23
06 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:19.463 26
07 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:19.656 26
08 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:19.667 20
09 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 1:19.759 20
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:19.858 27
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:20.011 30
12 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:20.026 26
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:20.030 27
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:20.273 25
15 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:20.301 26
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:20.344 27
17 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:20.517 23
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:21.580 23
19 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:22.144 27
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:22.819 24

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