Daniel Ricciardo was the man to beat in Friday's practice for the Mexican GP as he finished FP2 ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Daniel Ricciardo: “Today was pretty positive and it’s always nice to be on top of the time sheets. I still feel we can improve a bit and we know Mercedes always find more on a Saturday when it counts. I think we still need to find a few tenths to stay in the fight, but we will work on that tonight. It’s nice not having to change much on the car because we don’t seem too far off. It’s always tricky here with the low grip and it’s very easy to make mistakes which you could see today with all the spins. You have to be careful, be very nice to your car, have a good feeling and that really helps around here. I think we managed to find a pretty good set-up today with the car and the tyre temperatures, but it doesn’t mean it will be easy for us all weekend. It doesn’t look like I will have to make an engine change, so unless something unplanned happens then I will race from my Qualifying position on Sunday. If she keeps ticking over then we are keeping her in! Sunday will be really close, but today was a good day, so we will try and keep it going for the rest of the weekend.”
Max Verstappen: “The pace of the car seems good, we tried a few new bits for next year this morning to understand them but I didn’t like the feel so we stopped running early. We lost a bit of momentum and didn’t do as many laps as we would have liked, this also meant we fell a bit behind on set-up. This afternoon we were playing catch-up on achieving a good car balance, we didn’t get it where I wanted it but we were still third before we finished so I think the potential is there. Grip is always low here due to the altitude. With the other categories going out later today and laying rubber it should improve the grip as the weekend goes on. The day ended with a MGU-H failure but it was an old engine so nothing major to be concerned about looking ahead for the weekend. Daniel’s pace looked good and we were quickest on all compounds which is very positive. We still don’t have that extra power for Qualifying but I think we look good to fight for a descent result on Sunday as race pace looks strong.”
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been a good day today. It didn’t really start out great, particularly in the second session with the big spin on my first lap. That really threw off the session and obviously made it a little bit tricky to get the run on the SuperSoft. So I put myself on the back foot. But the single lap and then the long run on the UltraSoft was probably one of the best I’ve ever done. I don’t think I’ve ever done 26 laps that consistent, apart from in the race maybe. We got lots of information, the track was feeling better in the second session once the temperature came up. It was great to see all the fans buzzing already today, in the paddock but also in the big grandstands. So overall a good day.”
Valtteri Bottas: “First practice was good; I really enjoyed it. It is such a fun circuit to drive because it has quite a low grip, so it is definitely challenging. We made some set-up changes for FP2 which went in the wrong direction. So in the end of the session we went back to the original set-up. For some reason I also struggled to get the tyres to work in the second session. That’s why it didn’t look as good as the first one. But I think it was a positive day overall, I’m looking forward to qualifying.”
Sebastian Vettel: “This is a day in which we haven’t done it 100% right. A fire extinguisher went off in the middle of the run. Initially it just felt like burning, and then it turned out to be very cold, so I had to go back, but we couldn’t recover the time lost. This is a short track with a lot of traffic, so it is not ideal. Also, here it is tough to cool the car, the brakes, all the components, so if you are stuck behind someone else, it is quite bad. You want to be ahead of traffic and able to keep your pace. I think that keeping the temperatures as low as possible here will be tricky, but whoever succeeds the best will have the strongest pace. The car is quick, I just think it is important to find the right balance”.
Kimi Raikkonen: “It was a normal Friday, trying different things and solutions to use in the car. Because of the high altitude the track conditions were not easy, always feeling a bit slippery. In some places it was okay while in some others it was a bit more difficult. Obviously you always want to have an easier and more straightforward day, with a better feeling from the beginning, but it’s the normal story on Friday. It’s the first practice and we can improve. In the evening we’ll go through everything, figure out what’s best and get ready for tomorrow”.