Verstappen tops tight times again in mildly moist Mexico FP2

Max Verstappen topped a drizzly FP2 to sweep Friday practice at the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Light rain arrived in time for the start of the session and intensified in the last sector in the last 15 minutes, but it was never hard enough to suspend running or force drivers onto wet-weather tires.

The cooler track conditions appeared to bring the field closer together, with seven manufacturers represented in the top eight, which was spread over just 0.391s.

Verstappen was fastest, needing just one run on the soft tire to take top spot with a time of 1m 18.686s. Lando Norris followed him with a longer run on the red-marked rubber, his best time falling 0.119s short.

The McLaren driver was surprisingly quicker than the Red Bull Racing car through the final sector, which comprises the clumsy stadium section. The bulk of his loss came down the long straights of the first split.

Charles Leclerc completed the top three for Ferrari at 0.266s off the pace, while Valtteri Bottas surprised with one of Alfa Romeo’s best Fridays of the season, finishing fourth and just 0.003s further back. Sergio Perez was 0.302s slower than his session-topping teammates in sixth ahead of AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton.

Esteban Ocon made Alpine the seventh different constructor in the top eight, lodging a time only 0.053s slower than Hamilton ahead. Oscar Piastri and George Russell snuck into the top 10 ahead of Carlos Sainz, Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu.

Russell, Tsunoda and Zhou were all completing their sole hour of Friday practice, having sacrificed their FP1 sessions to junior drivers. Tsunoda set the equal most laps of any driver for the session, with 34 tours completed.

Alex Albon, who was second quickest earlier in the day, slumped to 14th and 0.76s off the pace. Car problems then ended his session almost 10 minutes early.

Nico Hulkenberg set the quickest first sector of the afternoon but couldn’t rise to higher than 15th, putting him ahead of Pierre Gasly, who resumed the cockpit from Jack Doohan in FP1, and Logan Sargeant in his Williams.

Lance Stroll lost bundles of practice time for the second weekend in a row, completing just 17 laps after the team appeared to be unable to remove his front-left wheel during a mid-session pit stop. His Aston Martin had to be wheeled back into the garage for further work.

By the time he exited pit lane, track conditions had deteriorated too significantly in the drizzle for him to set a competitive soft-tire lap, leaving him anchored near the bottom.

Kevin Magnussen was 19th after taking back his car from Oliver Bearman, while Fernando Alonso ended the hour an unrepresentative last after spinning his car through the esses on his sole soft-tire lap before switching to race set-up work on the medium compound.

Story originally appeared on Racer