Max Verstappen topped the first practice session for the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix, but Alex Albon was a surprise second fastest in the Williams.
It was business as usual for the triple Formula 1 Champion, going topping the timing screens regardless of the tyre compound he was on.
But the big surprise was Alex Albon who was flirting with the top three all session long an finished second behind Verstappen, less than a tenth slower.
Local hero, Sergio Perez, was third fastest in the sister Red Bull.
Of the young drivers taking part in the session, Oliver Bearman was the fastest in the Haas, 15th fastest and over two seconds off the pace.
Buildup towards FP1
The F1 circus soared more than 2Km over sea level for this weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
This event, being so high above sea level, meaning thin air, poses unique challenges for the teams in terms of cooling their car and the power units as the turbos will be working extra hard to make sure the engines get the air they need for combustion.
The previous race in Austin saw Mercedes bring what they called their final major upgrade to their W14, a new floor that seemed to re-energize Lewis Hamilton, so will the Black Arrows continue their strong form this weekend.
Haas and Aston Martin also brought major upgrade packages for Austin, but with limited practice – being a Sprint weekend – they couldn’t really their cars working. Haas were underwhelming while Aston Martin even reverted Fernando Alonso to the previous car spec for the race.
So maybe, with Mexico being a standard weekend, they can now get to evaluate their new packages properly.
Verstappen was pushed hard in Austin by Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren, so will that be the case in Mexico? How will his brakes hold up?
The other Red Bull driver, Perez, will be driving with the extra of motivation of racing at home. Will he be able to rise up to the occasion?
As part of the rule mandating every team gives driving time for young drivers in two practice sessions, five young talents will be driving F1 cars in FP1. Those are: Jack Doohan (Alpine), Oliver Bearman (Haas), Isack Hadjar (AlphaTauri), Theo Pourchaire (Alfa Romeo) and Frederik Vesti (Mercedes).
They replace Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen, Yuki Tsunoda, Valtteri Bottas, and George Russell respectively.
As for Pirelli, they have brought the softer array of their compounds this weekend, the C3 (Hard), the C4 (Medium), and the C5 (Soft).
Pirelli are also bringing prototype of C4 tyres for next season to be tested, offering each driver two sets. Those tyres can be identified by their black tyre-walls.
A return to the standard #F1 practice format for the #MexicoGP!