RACE DEBRIEF

    Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas headed Free Practice 1 for the Mexico City Grand Prix, narrowly outpacing team mate Lewis Hamilton, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed P3.

    A dusty Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez greeted the drivers as Free Practice 1 got under way, Formula 1 not having raced at the track since 2019.

    Those low-grip conditions claimed two early victims, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc spinning backwards into the wall at the final corner with 10 minutes of the one-hour session gone, before home hero Sergio Perez produced a carbon copy of the incident just seconds later in his Red Bull RB16B.

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    Many had predicted that the circuit this weekend would favour Red Bull. But once that dust had settled and the track rubbered in slightly, it was Mercedes who took the early advantage, with Bottas – always impressive in ‘green’ conditions – heading the session with a 1m 18.341s.

    Hamilton slotted into P2, just 0.076s, with his title rival Verstappen claiming P3, 0.123s off the pace of Bottas. However, Hamilton was investigated after the session for failing to re-join the track correctly after running off at Turn 1, as was Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen – with both drivers handed reprimands by the stewards.

    FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE LA CIUDAD DE MÉXICO 2021

    Mexico 2021

    Practice 1 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes 1:18.341
    2 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes +0.076s
    3 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing +0.123s
    4 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing +0.269s
    5 Pierre Gasly GAS AlphaTauri +0.644s

    Perez’s excursion into the wall cost him 26 minutes of track time as Red Bull enacted repairs on his car, the Mexican eventually returning to the track to thunderous applause, and doing well to slot into P4, a tenth and a half off his team mate.

    Pierre Gasly had a great opening session to go P5 for AlphaTauri, ahead of the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso pipping the second Ferrari of Leclerc with a late effort to take P7, Alonso 1.315s off the ultimate pace of Bottas.

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    Rounding out the top 10 came the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon in ninth, as former Mexico polesitter Sebastian Vettel took P10 for Aston Martin.

    Eleventh was Yuki Tsunoda, who along with Lance Stroll, will start at the back of the grid on Sunday after taking on new power unit elements, Tsunoda nonetheless finishing ahead of Raikkonen and Stroll in P11.

    2021 Mexico City GP FP1: Pérez and Leclerc hit wall in Mexico

    McLaren are rarely super-quick on Friday, and they duly lined up P14 and P15, Daniel Ricciardo leading Lando Norris, who at one point refused a request from the team to practice a tow with his team mate.

    READ MORE: Stroll and Tsunoda set to start Mexico City GP from back of the grid after taking new power unit parts

    Rounding out the field, Antonio Giovinazzi was 16th for Alfa Romeo, ahead the Williams pair of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, as Haas’ rookie duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin took 19th and 20th.

    So, it’s Mercedes with the early advantage. But can Red Bull hit back in FP2, on what should be an increasingly grippy Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez?

    FP1 Highlights: 2021 Mexican Grand Prix