FP2: George Russell fastest in Mexico as Charles Leclerc suffers big crash

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc runs in Friday practice FP2. Mexico October 2022.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc runs during Friday practice in Mexico City. October 2022.

George Russell topped FP2 in Mexico City as he made up for lost time in sitting out FP1, while Charles Leclerc’s session ended early after a crash at Turn 8.

The rear of Leclerc’s Ferrari was left heavily damaged after his crash caused a lengthy red-flag delay as marshals repaired barriers at the left-hander, taken at around 120mph.

FP1 had been a closely-fought session as the drivers worked hard to get through as much as they could of their planned practice programmes, with FP2 set aside for testing of prototype 2023 Pirelli tyres – as was the case in Austin last time out.

The only exceptions to the rule were the five drivers to miss first practice – with Russell, Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon all able to make use of 45 minutes to catch up on what they missed, all taking the top three places in the session respectively.

Kevin Magnussen had hoped to get the same opportunity but his car’s engine failure in FP1 whilst Pietro Fittipaldi was behind the wheel required a new internal combustion engine to be fitted – leaving him stuck in the garage and lumbered with a five-place grid penalty for Sunday when he eventually emerged, with it being a fresh ICE beyond his allocation for the season.

Likewise, Williams’ Alex Albon was also left wanting to get out on track but spent the first 25 minutes in the garage.

That will undoubtedly have been a hindrance to them as they look to get used to a unique challenge in Mexico, with the altitude meaning the cars and drivers are having to work at full capacity with around 20% less air density – affecting both downforce and drag on the cars.

As we had seen in Austin, the FP1 absentees topped the timesheets as they strapped on soft 2022 tyres in FP2, Russell comfortably the pick of the bunch as he became the first driver to drop below the 1:20 barrier for the weekend, clocking a 1:19.970 to lead Tsunoda by eight tenths of a second.

But the session was curtailed for a crash as Leclerc went sliding into the wall at the exit of Turn 8, suffering a snap of oversteer on turn-in and spinning, heavily damaging the rear of his Ferrari in the process.

He walked away from the incident unscathed, but his Ferrari mechanics will have been left with a hefty workload overnight.

The session was held up for more than 20 minutes while the barriers were repaired and the remaining drivers were quick to get back on track for the remainder of the session for Pirelli’s tyre test.

As had been the case in the United States, the prototype compounds from Pirelli were kept a secret as the tyres were run unmarked for the session, so it is difficult to read into a competitive order based on the test tyre times.

Of the 2023 tyre runners though, Lewis Hamilton was narrowly quickest ahead of the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, closely followed by Ferrari pairing Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

As was the case in FP1 though, the Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari drivers were all very closely matched. The top six drivers – including Alpine’s Fernando Alonso – were just 0.192s apart in the first session, while the gap between Hamilton and Sainz in fourth and eighth was only 0.184s.

The drivers had been focusing on long runs on the test compounds before the end of the session, which then ended two minutes after Zhou Guanyu had pulled over in the Foro Sol stadium section of the circuit, citing a hydraulic problem over team radio which halted his session.

FP2 classification

1 George RUSSELL Mercedes 1:19.970
2 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +0.828
3 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.207
4 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +1.539
5 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +1.609
6 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +1.618
7 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +1.648
8 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +1.723
9 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +2.023
10 Pierre GASLY AlphaTauri +2.134
11 Fernando ALONSO Alpine +2.367
12 Sebastian VETTEL Aston Martin +2.401
13 Alexander ALBON Williams +2.477
14 Lando NORRIS McLaren +2.768
15 Daniel RICCIARDO McLaren +2.793
16 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +2.870
17 Mick SCHUMACHER Haas F1 Team +2.909
18 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +3.346
19 Nicholas LATIFI Williams +3.350
20 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo +3.399

Read more: Christian Horner calls for apology from Red Bull rivals over cost cap allegations