Mexican Grand Prix: Max Verstappen tops FP1 as Alex Albon splits Red Bulls

Henry Valantine
Sergio Perez in Mexican Grand Prix FP1.

Sergio Perez was roared around his home circuit on every lap in FP1 on Friday.

Max Verstappen went fastest in FP1 for the Mexican Grand Prix on Friday, with Alex Albon just behind in his Williams in Mexico City.

Five rookies were on track in first practice around the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda, George Russell, Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas all sitting out the session.

Plenty of running was also anticipated, with the drivers given a two sets of a prototype of a new C4 compound which Pirelli may opt to run in 2024, if the trial of the tyre proves successful.

Several rookies take on F1 challenge in Mexican Grand Prix FP1 session

FP1 in Mexico City saw several teams swap out regular race drivers to use one of their mandatory rookie sessions, with 19-year-old Frenchman Isack Hadjar taking the wheel at AlphaTauri, teenage Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman at Haas, Jack Doohan taking part for Alpine, Formula 2 championship leader Théo Pourchaire at Alfa Romeo and current F2 runner-up Frederik Vesti in at Mercedes.

On the track, a piece of Daniel Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri flew off his car and landed on the start/finish straight, while Carlos Sainz, who was in action after being absent with illness on Thursday, reported a hydraulic issue on his Ferrari at the beginning of a lap.

This left him stuck in fourth gear for a whole lap as he made his way back around to the pits, leaving Ferrari with work to do to try and get him back out again during FP1, though he managed to do so later in the session.

A 1:21.596 from Perez 15 minutes in put him at the top of the standings ahead of Red Bull team-mate Verstappen, with audible roars from his home support even at this early stage of the weekend as he chases his dream of a victory in Mexico City.

Verstappen soon gazumped that however with a 1:20.245, 1.3 seconds quicker than anyone else at that stage as the World Champion found his own rhythm.

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A mixture of times on medium and soft tyres followed but Alex Albon in the Williams lapped within 0.004s of Verstappen on mediums, a sign that his car might be in a good performance window early on.

Lando Norris bolted on a set of softs and pipped Verstappen at the top, before the Red Bull driver went half a second faster and became the first driver to dip into the 1:19s this weekend.

Elsewhere, there was frustration for Pourchaire as he kept facing a repeat issue throughout FP1 that halted him from setting a representative lap time for much of the hour at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

But on the softs himself, Albon showed pace once again, getting to within a tenth of Verstappen’s benchmark and splitting the Red Bulls in the process.

Fernando Alonso was only two tenths down on Verstappen through the first two sectors, but running wide at Turn 12 scuppered his best lap and lost him over a second in the final sector on the softs, having spent the majority of FP1 on the prototype compound for Aston Martin.

Mexican Grand Prix 2023: FP1 classification

1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull 1:19.718
2 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.095
3 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull +0.297
4 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.519
5 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.579
6 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.745
7 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.761
8 Daniel RICCIARDO AlphaTauri +0.850
9 Esteban OCON Alpine +0.959
10 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.969
11 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +1.006
12 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +1.250
13 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +1.411
14 Logan SARGEANT Williams +1.439
15 Oliver BEARMAN Haas +1.595
16 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +1.629
17 Isack HADJAR AlphaTauri +2.223
18 Jack DOOHAN Alpine +2.391
19 Frederik VESTI Mercedes +3.219
20 Theo POURCHAIRE Alfa Romeo No time set

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