FP1: Verstappen leads first practice in Mexico City ahead of Albon and Perez
Max Verstappen edged out Williams’ Alex Albon to set the pace in first practice for the Mexico City Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Three-time world champion Verstappen was quick from the opening minutes of the session, the Dutchman going fastest on the Pirelli prototype tyre.
He then traded fastest laps with Perez and came out on top by 0.297s when the duo both tried out the soft tyres for the first time in the session.
Verstappen then pitted, after reporting something was loose around his feet, before heading back out to learn about the medium tyre on higher fuel for the remaining 15 minutes of the session.
FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE LA CIUDAD DE MÉXICO 2023
Practice 1 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:19.718|
|2 Alexander Albon ALB Williams||+0.095s|
|3 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||+0.297s|
|4 Lando Norris NOR McLaren||+0.519s|
|5 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+0.579s|
Albon was the surprise package of the session, the Thai driver quick on the mediums, prototype and soft tyres to go second quickest, just 0.095s off the pace.
The Williams driver's best lap was set towards the end of the session, when the track would have been less green and more rubbered in to deliver better grip.
There were cheers from the packed grandstands every time home favourite Sergio Perez drove by in his Red Bull, the Mexican slotting into third, only 0.3s off the pace in third.
There was then a tight fight between McLaren and Ferrari, with Lando Norris coming out on top in the papaya car, edging out Charles Leclerc in the Prancing Horse.
Oscar Piastri – one of two regular drivers to have never driven F1 machinery around the Mexican track – was sixth, a fraction ahead of Carlos Sainz, who returned to the track after feeling unwell on Thursday’s media day and had a disjointed session after losing some time to a suspected hydraulics issue.
Daniel Ricciardo was the lead AlphaTauri in eighth, with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll completing the top 10.
Lewis Hamilton was the best-placed Mercedes in 11th, edging out Nico Hulkenberg who is competing in his 200th Grand Prix weekend in the Haas.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu and the Williams of Logan Sargeant were next up while Fernando Alonso, who spent the first half of the session in the garage and didn’t set a time until the final 20 minutes, was down in 16th.
There were five ‘Friday drivers’ in action in FP1 – with Oliver Bearman, who had Kevin Magnussen's Haas, quickest of that quintet in 15th.
Isack Hadjar, who was borrowing Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri, ended his first F1 race weekend appearance 17th while Alpine’s reserve Jack Doohan, in Pierre Gasly’s car, was 18th.
Frederik Vesti was 19th, driving George Russell’s Mercedes, while Theo Pourchaire, who is leading the F2 championship with one round to go, had a miserable session in the Alfa Romeo.
He headed out and reported the brake pedal felt strange. He boxed and went back out for three further installation laps – but each time, the team couldn’t find a fix – and that meant an early end to his session without setting a timed lap.
The teams will now comb through the data from the session and prepare themselves for the second practice session that kicks off at 1600 local time.