RACE DEBRIEF

    Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz set the early pace of the Mexico City Grand Prix weekend in FP1, leading team mate Charles Leclerc by 0.046s, ahead of the Red Bull pairing of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

    Political noise dominated Friday morning in Mexico, as first Red Bull and then Aston Martin entered Agreements with the FIA over breaches of the 2021 Cost Cap. However, come 1300 local time, the principal noise reverberating around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was the sound of the V6 hybrid engines as Sebastian Vettel – bedecked in a tribute helmet to the late Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz – led the drivers out on track.

    READ MORE: Red Bull enter Agreement with FIA over breach of 2021 Financial Regulations

    Among those were a full five FP1 swap-ins: Pietro Fittipaldi replacing Kevin Magnussen at Haas, Logan Sargeant getting another run for Williams in place of Alex Albon, Jack Doohan making his FP1 debut for Alpine (Esteban Ocon moving aside), Liam Lawson taking Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri for a run, and Nyck de Vries – set to drive for AlphaTauri next year – in for George Russell at Mercedes.

    Fresh from their constructors’ triumph in Austin, Red Bull pair Verstappen and local hero Perez set the early benchmarks on the hard tyres – Verstappen three-tenths quicker than his team mate, backing up the notion that there would be no freebies for Perez this weekend in his pursuit of a maiden home win.

    However, when the soft tyres were bolted on, it was Ferrari who turned the tables on the Bulls, with Carlos Sainz stopping the clocks with a 1m 20.707s lap, narrowly ahead of Leclerc, with the Red Bull pair setting an identical time in P3 and P4, Perez ahead of Verstappen but both 0.120s behind Sainz. Verstappen, meanwhile, would also suffer a bizarre spin on his soft-shod out-lap, perhaps caught out by the reduced air density at this track that sits 2,250m above sea level.

    FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE LA CIUDAD DE MÉXICO 2022

    Mexico 2022

    Practice 1 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari 1:20.707
    2 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari +0.046s
    3 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing +0.120s
    4 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing +0.120s
    5 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes +0.142s

    Lewis Hamilton left it until late to claim P5, ahead of sixth-placed Fernando Alonso – who had his P7 result from Austin reinstated overnight after lengthy deliberation – with Valtteri Bottas P7 here ahead of Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly and Vettel.

    Daniel Ricciardo overcame brake issues and a near-miss with a Mercedes in the Foro Sol stadium section to take P11, ahead of Zhou Guanyu – whose session was interrupted after he stopped at the end of the pit lane.

    READ MORE: Alonso’s US Grand Prix penalty overturned after Alpine appeal

    Lance Stroll was P13 ahead of the Haas of Mick Schumacher and the Williams of Nicholas Latifi.

    Unsurprisingly, it was the FP1 stand-ins who rounded out the order, although there were plenty of mitigating factors for them. Liam Lawson was the ‘leader’ of that group in P16, but the New Zealander’s session ended a few minutes early, after his AlphaTauri stopped out on track, bringing out a red flag that curtailed the session for all and sundry.

    FP1 Highlights: 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix

    He was ahead of Sargeant and De Vries – who thanked Mercedes for his time with the team ahead of his switch to AlphaTauri for 2023 – while Doohan and Fittipaldi would also encounter problems. Doohan pulled in early after “anomalies” were spotted on his power unit, while Fittipaldi brought out an earlier red flag after stopping out on track with an MGU-K issue.

    So, it was Ferrari who struck first in Mexico City – but with 90 minutes of FP2 coming up (courtesy of a second Pirelli tyre test), who can fight back at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez?