FP2: Vettel on top with Mercedes off the pace

Mark Scott
Sebastian Vettel PA

Sebastian Vettel PA

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel topped the FP2 timesheets at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez ahead of Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Vettel’s time of a 1:16.607 on the soft tyres during his qualifying sim run remained unbeaten, with Max Verstappen finishing a tenth behind in P2.

Team-mate Alex Albon was at the very bottom of the standings after crashing out in the early stages of the session.

Charles Leclerc was four tenths off the pace in P3, while Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, FP1 leader, were notable strugglers with grip and balance as they finished a distant P4 and P5 respectively.

Conditions were a little brighter for FP2 with those low, murky morning clouds lifting slightly as all 20 drivers headed back on track. This time we had the full grid on show with George Russell back in his car after handing over to Nicholas Latifi in FP1.

All was calm and serene in the opening stages until, 15 minutes in, Charles Leclerc suffered a big spin at Turn 1 and Alex Albon crashed out at Turn 7/Turn 8 moments later. It was quite a hefty shunt but he thankfully reported that he was ok.

It brought the red flags out for the second time on Friday and quite a lengthy delay, too, as the RB15 was recovered.

With one hour left on the clock and the qualifying sim runs still to come, it was a Ferrari 1-2 at the top with Vettel (1:17.960) leading Leclerc by a couple of tenths.

Bottas, down in P12 at the time, was struggling to get to grips (literally) with the track as he spun out in the stadium section and was fortunate not to be joining Albon on the sidelines.

Vettel, meanwhile, in the qualifying sims, lowered the benchmark to a 1:16.607 with Verstappen proving to be his nearest rival by being just a tenth behind.

Most eye-catching of all, though, for the wrong reasons, was Hamilton who was a rather lowly P5 and nine tenths back after his qualifying simulation effort.

The common complaint throughout the race simulation programmes was with excessive tyre wear which could throw up some interesting strategies for Sunday’s race.

FP2 timesheet:

1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:16.607 S
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.115s S
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.465s S
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.614s S
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.963s S
6 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1.140s S
7 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1.396s M
8 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1.472s S
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1.654s S
10 Lando Norris McLaren 1.742s S
11 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1.755s S
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1.759s S
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.773s S
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 2.074s S
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 2.159s S
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 2.282s S
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2.699s S
18 George Russell Williams 3.361s S
19 Robert Kubica Williams 3.573s S
20 Alex Albon Red Bull 5.058s M

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