Red Bull Racing were adamant they would be in the mix this weekend at Mexico, and the first practice session seemed to prove so, with Verstappen and Ricciardo comfortably heading the field in their Renault powered Red Bulls.
The team knows this circuit is likely the last of the season where they will be well into the fight for the win, thanks to the high altitude that rewards their high rake car while having a smaller penalty due to the power difference versus Ferrari and Mercedes.
With two cars ahead, the surprise was even larger when the French firm saw its cars line up in third and fourth on the timing sheet. Though the team are targeting a solid result this weekend, they were likely not expecting to be the second fastest team as the weekend started.
Both Mercedes, headed by Lewis Hamilton lined up in 5th and 6th, ahead of the Ferrari duo. Brendon Hartley and Forco India reserve Nicholas Latifi completed the top 10.
While the session was dominated by drivers complained about a lack of grip, Pierre Gasly had other things to worry about. On only his second lap out on track, problems made him return to the pits, where the team decided to switch back to an older specification Honda power unit, making Gasly face a grid penalty for Sunday's race.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer||1:16.656||-||19|
|2||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer||1:17.139||+0.483s||19|
|9||28||Brendon Hartley||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:19.024||+2.368s||29|
|10||34||Nicholas Latifi||Force India Mercedes||1:19.078||+2.422s||23|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:19.124||+2.468s||29|
|12||36||Antonio Giovinazzi||Sauber Ferrari||1:19.134||+2.478s||25|
|13||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:19.276||+2.620s||26|
|14||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:19.312||+2.656s||28|
|15||47||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||1:19.646||+2.990s||23|
|16||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Renault||1:19.716||+3.060s||29|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:19.853||+3.197s||28|
|18||35||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Mercedes||1:19.899||+3.243s||30|
|19||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1:20.142||+3.486s||26|
|20||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||-||-||2|