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Mexico FP2: Verstappen fastest then stops

Max Verstappen was remarkably calm as he parked his Red Bull after a hydraulic failure mid-lap with around ten minutes remaining in the second free practice session of the Mexican Grand Prix weekend.

Verstappen was unbeaten all day as he also topped the timing screens at the end of FP1. In the second session of the day, his lap time of 1:16.720, before the mishap, was enough for top spot again.
The Dutchman said afterwards, “We have a good car, good downforce and good mechanical grip. Unfortunately, our day ended with a hydraulic issue, but other than that our day has been really good.”

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Daniel Ricciardo was second fastest, a tenth and a half down on his teammate as Red Bull clearly have the package to beat this weekend at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with Verstappen’s ambition to repeat the victory he scored last year at the venue a realistic prospect.

With the altitude venue apparently negating the power advantage of Ferrari and Mercedes, Renault’s Carlos Sainz was next best albeit 1.2 seconds down on the top time, but a tenth up on his teammate Nico Hulkenberg in fifth.

Sebastian Vettel split the yellow duo on the timing screens with the fourth best time in the Ferrari. United States Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen was eighth. The Reds still searching for the sweet spot.

Brendon Hartley showed strong pace in his Toro Rosso to finish the 90-minute session in sixth while teammate Pierre Gasly, who sat out most of FP1, managed to get mileage but had to settle for 14th.

Mercedes also struggled in what was the worst Friday of their season, Lewis Hamilton was only good for seventh and Valtteri Bottas ninth. The silver cars a massive 1.3 seconds down on the Blues at the front of the field.

Next up were the Force India pair with local hero Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten, three tenths up on Esteban Ocon in the sister car.

Grip or lack thereof and graining were key factors during the course of the day in which only Red Bull could get their tyres working in an optimum manner. There was some serious head scratching at the end of the first day of action in Mexico.