FP2: Verstappen fastest in drizzle-hit second practice as Norris and Leclerc round out top three in Mexico City
Max Verstappen was quickest of all in Friday practice for the Mexico City Grand Prix, as the Red Bull driver followed up his pace-setting first practice effort with the fastest time in a drizzle-hit FP2.
Darker clouds swept in over Mexico City as second practice got under way – but while very light rain fell at times, it wasn’t significant enough to stop drivers continuing to learn about their cars on a variety of dry weather tyres.
Verstappen set out his stall early doors once more with an initial run on the medium tyres and then significantly improved when he bolted a set of softs on for a qualifying simulation.
The Dutchman, like the rest of the field, then turned his attention to long runs for the remaining 25 minutes of the session, with a mix of the mediums and hards being analysed as part of preparation for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE LA CIUDAD DE MÉXICO 2023
Practice 2 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:18.686|
|2 Lando Norris NOR McLaren||+0.119s|
|3 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+0.266s|
|4 Valtteri Bottas BOT Alfa Romeo||+0.269s|
|5 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||+0.302s|
The three-time world champion was kept honest by Lando Norris, the McLaren driver just 0.119s behind in second with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc making it three different teams in the top-three in third.
There were a few surprises behind that trio, with Valtteri Bottas a superb fourth – the Alfa Romeos following up last year’s strong performance at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with another shot of pace this time around.
Home favourite Sergio Perez was fifth, three tenths adrift of Red Bull team mate Verstappen, and only a fraction ahead of a resurgent Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian delivering a string of very competitive laps to put his AlphaTauri sixth.
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes looked more hooked up in second practice and that yielded a lap time that was around 0.65s quicker than he managed in FP1 as he went seventh, a fraction ahead of Esteban Ocon in the leading Alpine.
Oscar Piastri, driving in Mexico for the first time in his career, was ninth as Mercedes’ George Russell closed out the top-10.
Carlos Sainz was 11th, only three tenths adrift of his Ferrari team mate Leclerc but so close was the field on what is a relatively short lap, he was eight places further back in the classification.
Yuki Tsunoda’s focus was on long run pace, as he’ll start the Grand Prix from the back of the pack after a slew of power unit, gearbox and ancillary component changes. The Japanese driver, who missed FP1 as Isack Hadjar borrowed his car, ended up 12th quickest.
Zhou Gunayu was 13th, 0.031s ahead of Alex Albon who couldn’t match his impressive performance in FP1 – where he ended up second quickest – and spent a chunk of time in the garage after a part appeared to break off and drag along under the car.
Nico Hulkenberg – in the heavily-upgraded Haas that debuted last time out in Austin – was 15th, ahead of Pierre Gasly’s Alpine and the Williams of Logan Sargeant.
It was a tough session for Aston Martin, with Lance Stroll twice requiring repairs as he ended up 18th with team mate Fernando Alonso surviving a spin to end up 20th of all, the duo sandwiching Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.
The teams will now dive into the data late into the night – with their factory team running possible set-ups through their simulator – as they look to refine their respective packages for Saturday when final practice kicks off at 1130 local time ahead of the all-important qualifying hour at 1500.