FP1: Verstappen tops opening practice as Albon impresses in Mexico

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Just a few days after the United States Grand Prix, Max Verstappen continued where he left off in Austin, topping the opening practice at the Mexico City Grand Prix. Alexander Albon finished in an impressive P2, only a tenth off Verstappen's benchmark. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó reports on Free Practice 1.

After using Pirelli's test tyres in the opening stages of the one-hour session, Verstappen switched to the yellow-banded medium before setting his benchmark time of 1m19.718s on the soft compound. The Dutchman then carried on with a high fuel run on the yellow-walled tyres with his long run showing signs of relatively high tyre wear.

His team-mate Sergio Perez finsihed in an encouraging P3, displaying impressive speed on home soil in front of his passionate fans. Delivering the surprise of the session, Williams driver Alex Albon took third with a late push lap when the majority of the field were performing high fuel runs.

After inheriting second place in Austin, Lando Norris put his McLaren fourth, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and teammate Oscar Piastri, with Carlos Sainz taking seventh. The Spaniard was forced to limp back into the pits due to hydraluics-related issues, but the Ferrari mechanics did a great job to repair his car in a short space of time.

After returning to action in Austin just a week ago, Daniel Ricciardo had a difficult race at the first station of the last triple-header in 2023. But the Australian eight-time F1 race winner completed a much more promising opening practice in Mexico City, taking eighth in Free Practice 1.

Following his disqualification from last Sunday's United States Grand Prix, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton ended up only 11th in his Mercedes, over a second off Verstappen’s benchmark time.

With the season nearing its conclusion and the amount of sprint formats in the closing stages of the year, it was no surprise five teams selected the Mexico City Grand Prix as the venue for their junior drivers. In total, there were five young drivers in action in FP1 – with Oliver Bearman, who had Kevin Magnussen's Haas, quickest of that quintet in 15th.

Following early technical gremlins, Isack Hadjar, who was borrowing Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri, ended F1 outing 17th while Alpine’s reserve Jack Doohan, in Pierre Gasly’s car, was 18th.

Taking over the Mercedes W14 from George Russell, F2 frontrunner Frederik Vesti was 19th, while Theo Pourchaire, who is leading the F2 championship with one round to go, had a miserable session in the Alfa Romeo. The French driver headed out and reported the brake pedal felt strange. Although the team was eager to find a solution to the problem and Pourchaire performed two further installation lap, he was forced to end the session without completing a single flying lap.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:19.71829
223Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:19.813+0.095s30
311Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:20.015+0.297s27
44Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:20.237+0.519s29
516Charles LeclercFerrari1:20.297+0.579s29
681Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:20.463+0.745s31
755Carlos SainzFerrari1:20.479+0.761s22
83Daniel RicciardoAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:20.568+0.850s30
931Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:20.677+0.959s26
1018Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:20.687+0.969s26
1144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:20.724+1.006s24
1227Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:20.968+1.250s28
1324Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:21.129+1.411s26
142Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:21.157+1.439s30
1550Oliver BearmanHaas Ferrari1:21.313+1.595s30
1614Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:21.347+1.629s17
1741Isack HadjarAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:21.941+2.223s25
1861Jack DoohanAlpine Renault1:22.109+2.391s24
1942Frederik VestiMercedes1:22.937+3.219s25
2098Theo PourchaireAlfa Romeo Ferrari4