FP1: Sainz heads Ferrari one-two in a tight opening practice in Mexico

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Mexico, Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguezmx

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz set the benchmark in the opening practice session for the Mexico City Grand Prix, pipping his team mate Charles Leclerc in an extremely tight 60-minute session. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on Free Practice 1.

As the season slowly nears its conclusion, several teams have once again opted to work with young drivers in a bid to comply with FIA's new 2022 sporting rule that forces teams to complete at least two practice sessions with drivers who have not participated in more than two grands prix in the last two seasons.

The push to satisfy the requirement saw Pietro Fittipaldi take over the car of Kevin Magnussen, Jack Doohan drive Esteban Ocon's Alpine, Nyck de Vries complete the opening session in George Russell's Mercedes, Logan Sargeant take over Alexander Albon's car and Liam Lawson gain experience in Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri.

The opening part of Free Practice 1 saw the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez dictate the pace on the hard compound with their rivals struggling on the dirty surface of the Hermanos Rodriquez circuit. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc suffered a puncture on his second lap which forced him to sit out the opening stages of the practice.

When the Monegasque rolled out on to the track that sits 2.2km above sea level, on Pirelli's soft tyres, he quickly took over the lead from Verstappen, setting a 1m20.753. However, that time was then ecplised by his team mate Carlos Sainz, who managed to go by 46 thousands of a second faster.

Home hero Perez took third ahead of his team mate Verstappen, who appeared to be clearly the fastest driver on the track, but he lost control of his car in the middle sector on his first hot lap that could have been enough for P1.

Mercedes indicated ahead of the weekend that they ecpect their W13 to excel in Mexico due to the high altitude that requires almost maximum downforce despite the long straights due to the thin air. Lewis Hamilton lived up to these expectations as he went third fastest with a late push lap, going only a tenth slower than Leclerc.

De Vries, who is set to start his full-time grand prix career next year, ended the session down in P18.

Following his turbulent race, Fernando Alonso once again appeared to be in perfect form, taking sixth for Alpine. The Spaniard, who got back his seventh place from last weekend's United States Grand Prix following Alpine's appeal, finished almost 3.8 seconds faster than Doohan, who stood in for Ocon in the opening practice.

The last five spots were occupied by the young drivers with AlphaTauri's Liam Lawson setting the fastest time with a 1m23.861. The session was red-flagged and ended prematurely after the New Zealander was forced to park his car down in the Foro Sol section of the track.

Sargeant, who is set to make his grand prix debut in 2023, took 17th for Williams, followed by de Vries, Doohan. Haas driver Enzo Fittipaldi ended the session slowest, but he was sidelined quite early in the session due to a potential engine issue which forced the FIA to red-flag the session for a short while.


155Carlos SainzFerrari1:20.70725
216Charles LeclercFerrari1:20.753+0.046s20
311Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:20.827+0.120s22
41Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:20.827+0.120s22
544Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:20.849+0.142s17
614Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:20.899+0.192s26
777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:21.083+0.376s23
84Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:21.120+0.413s21
910Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt1:21.310+0.603s25
105Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:21.525+0.818s24
113Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:21.762+1.055s16
1224Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:21.820+1.113s20
1318Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:21.865+1.158s24
1447Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:21.952+1.245s22
156Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:22.912+2.205s20
1640Liam LawsonAlphatauri Rbpt1:23.861+3.154s19
1745Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:24.246+3.539s22
1819Nyck De VriesMercedes1:24.582+3.875s20
1982Jack DoohanAlpine Renault1:24.615+3.908s13
2051Pietro FittipaldiHaas Ferrari1:26.766+6.059s9