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Mexico GP: Verstappen leads Red Bull 1-2 in Practice 1

Written by  Oct 26, 2018

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo proved Red Bull will be tough to beat this weekend as they led a comfortable one-two in first practice for the Mexican Grand Prix.

It was the Dutchman who held a four-tenth advantage over his Australian teammate as he got a clear lap when his Hypersoft tyres were still new, whereas Ricciardo had to wait until the second timed lap to set his best time.

The reason for Red Bull's strength is the thinner air at higher altitude in Mexico City which negates Renault's engine deficit compared to Mercedes and Ferrari.

In fact, it was the French manufacturer who had their cars in third and fourth as Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg also opted to run the pink-striped compound throughout the first 90 minutes.

On the weekend when Lewis Hamilton is expected to secure his fifth world title, the Briton was fifth fastest in his Mercedes ahead of Valtteri Bottas, this despite complaining about dips in power during his second run.

Both Mercedes and Ferrari also switched to the Ultrasoft tyre after the first 40-minute change with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen following the Silver Arrows in seventh and eighth.

A key focus for the Scuderia was on a new floor which Red Bull has also copied as they look to work out why a rollback of upgrades has seemingly unlocked the pace that had gone missing in recent races.

On the very dusty Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit, braking was also a problem for Ferrari as Vettel and Raikkonen suffering big lock-ups into Turn 1 with Kimi also spinning at Turn 6.

Another thing the lack of grip was doing was ruining the Hypersoft tyre with graining a big problem very quickly and likely causing the decision for many teams to switch to the more durable Ultrasoft.

Brendon Hartley even described his tyres as little bubblegum at one point as the Kiwi finished P9 in the Toro Rosso and Nicholas Latifi when faster than Force India regular Sergio Perez in 10th.

The big home favourite was only 0.046s back in 11th and set his best on the slower Ultra compared to the Canadian F2 driver on the Hypersoft.

Antonio Giovinazzi also beat Marcus Ericsson, the man he'll be replacing at Sauber for next season in P12 with the Swede three-tenths back in P14 on the same tyre.

Romain Grosjean was 14th in the first of the Haas' with Lando Norris ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne in 15th and 16th respectively for McLaren.

The two Williams' brought up the field with Pierre Gasly only completing an installation lap before returning to the garage as Toro Rosso change his engine, something that will result in more grid penalties for the Frenchman.

Full results from Practice 1 can be seen below:


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