It was all going so well for Max Verstappen. Fresh from his timesheet-topping exploits in the opening practice session on Friday, the Dutchman continued to steal the show in FP2, setting the pace ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo as Red Bull lapped considerably quicker than their rivals. But then his RB14 suffered a sudden power loss in the last 10 minutes of the session, ending his day on a sour note…
Knowing their RB14 package has the potential to flourish at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez this weekend, the Milton Keynes squad were on course for another fine practice result in Mexico City - and it was Verstappen who led the way again, finishing 0.153s quicker than Ricciardo.
But with less than 10 minutes left on the clock, Verstappen’s car suddenly ground to a halt at the end of the long pit straight, a lack of power preventing him from finishing the session. Team Principal Christian Horner later said the Dutchman's car had suffered a hydraulic issue of some sort, but it remains to be seen as to whether he'll need new power unit components, which will trigger a potentially race ruining automatic grid drop.
A positive for Verstappen was that no one bar Ricciardo could get within a second of his leading pace, with Renault’s Carlos Sainz coming closest again to secure a second successive P3 on Friday. The Spaniard was some 1.2s behind the pacesetter, and only just sneaked into the top three, finishing just 0.001s ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel with the sister R.S.18 of Nico Hulkenberg coming home in fifth.
Renault's performance wasn’t the only shock of the session, with the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley - needing big performances with his seat under threat for 2019 - jumping into the top-six. The Kiwi finished 0.039s of Lewis Hamilton, with the Mercedes man sounding a little disheartened by the performance of his car. However, he knows as long as he finishes seventh or higher on Sunday, then a fifth world championship will be his regardless of what rival Vettel does.