Max Verstappen narrowly bested Alex Albon to the top spot in first practice at the Mexico City Grand Prix.
Verstappen set the benchmark at 1m19.718s on a sole run on fresh softs, though he subsequently had to cut short his stint on the red-marked tire after reporting something loose in the footwell.
Albon was his closest challenger, the Williams car propelling him to a time just 0.095s further back thanks to a purple first sector. Sergio Perez completed the top three at 0.297s off the pace of his session-topping teammate.
No other driver got within half a second of the leading trio.
Lando Norris led a tight battle between McLaren and Ferrari for fourth. The Briton finished 0.06s ahead of Charles Leclerc, while Oscar Piastri was 0.016s quicker than Carlos Sainz in sixth and seventh respectively despite the Australian setting his fastest time on Pirelli’s experimental medium-compound tire.
Sainz was forced into a 20-minute garage stay in the middle of the session with an apparent hydraulic failure while on a lap, forcing him to limp back to pit lane without power steering and stuck in fourth gear, although the team got him back on track with time enough to complete 23 laps.
Daniel Ricciardo was eighth quickest for AlphaTauri ahead of Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll rounding out the top 10.
Lewis Hamilton was the best-placed Mercedes driver in 11th but 1.006s off the pace thanks to a mistake on his fastest lap that was otherwise on track for a top-five position. Nico Hulkenberg, Zhou Guanyu and Logan Sargeant followed in places 12 to 14.
Five of the bottom six drivers on the time sheet comprised stand-in rookies, requiring one of two practice sessions required to be dedicated to young drivers per team each season.
British Ferrari academy driver and multiple F2 race winner Oliver Bearman took the wheel of Kevin Magnussen’s Haas car and was quickest of the bunch, lapping 1.595s off the pace.
Fernando Alonso, in 16th, was the only interloper among the rookies, the Aston Martin driver having lost half an hour to repairs shortly after setting his first installation lap.
AlphaTauri swapped Yuki Tsunoda for Frenchman Isack Hadjar, the F2 podium getter, who finished 17th.
“Best day of my life,” he said on his cool-down lap. “That was incredible.”
Hadjar had the benefit of a new power unit and gearbox for his session, though that will cost Tsunoda a back-of-grid start for Sunday’s race, being beyond his season allocations.
Australian Jack Doohan, a multiple F2 race winner, took over from Pierre Gasly to put his Alpine 18th in the session. Danish Mercedes young gun Frederik Vesti, currently second in the F2 championship, was 19th in George Russell’s car.
Theo Pourchaire’s session was lost to a brake pedal problem. The Alfa Romeo junior undertook just four installation laps, each time reporting strange feedback from the brake pedal and returning to his garage, where the team is still attempting to rectify the problem for FP2 later today.