Morning After: We might just get some intrigue on race day

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With the 2017 Formula 1 world championships all but wrapped up already for Mercedes, F1 needs all the intrigue it can muster and judging by Red Bull’s performance on Friday, we just might get some.

Managing to both top the timesheets in FP2 and explore a different tyre strategy to the Silver Arrows on the first day of the Mexican Grand Prix weekend, Red Bull have to be liking their chances of keeping things close on Sunday, at the very least.

No, Daniel Ricciardo’s 0.131s advantage over Lewis Hamilton isn’t likely to hold up come qualifying, but it’s good enough to suggest Red Bull’s package is legitimately strong here – a notion that is only helped by them extracting competitive times out of the same soft tyre which Mercedes seemed to eschew for the less-durable supers.

Assuming at least one Red Bull driver is close to the front (Ricciardo could still be set for engine-related penalties, while Max Verstappen’s power unit wasn’t exactly singing), a different compound choice may provide some much-needed spice to the Lewis Hamilton Coronation Tour™. Let’s hope so.

Ocon

As anyone familiar with their boxing and football crowds can attest, Mexican fans are notoriously passionate. Usually it’s for better, occasionally it’s for worse, and on some occasions, both – as was the case on Friday in Mexico.

Despite getting in an impressive crowd for Friday practice, the real story was unfortunately that Force India’s Esteban Ocon had been forced to take on an extensive security detail after persistent death threats due to his clashes with Mexican teammate Sergio Perez.

Invariably such things result from the rantings of a few keyboard warriors, and hopefully that’s the case here. Regardless of how you feel about him as a driver, Ocon the person is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet, and carries himself extremely well for being barely 21 years old, and certainly shouldn’t have to fear for his life. In any case, those bad hombres who wish Ocon harm would do well to heed the words of their man Perez: “at the end of the day, it’s just a sport.”

Quick Hits

  • After another so-so performance from Brendan Hartley in FP1, he managed to finish the day on a high with some strong running amongst the Williams’ in FP2. Even if the reports are true and he’s already set for a full-time drive in 2018, it’d be nice to see him earn it
  • Not exactly a bad day for Ferrari pace-wise, but as always they managed to get in their own way. For a half-billion dollar operation, a burst fire extinguisher is distinctly amateur-hour
  • So much for Daniil Kvyat’s future with Red Bull. Franz Tost made it official on Friday: they’ve fired the “Torpedo”