Alex Albon came within a tenth of a second of beating Max Verstappen to the fastest time in first practice for Formula 1's Mexican Grand Prix, as Williams proved Red Bull’s closest challenger in the early running at the Mexico City circuit.
- Verstappen fastest for Red Bull
- Albon beats Perez to second
- Three rookies make F1 debuts
There’s a good chance the Williams ran higher power settings on its Mercedes engine for this session compared to Red Bull’s Honda unit - something Williams often does on Fridays - but Albon’s pace was still impressive.
He was just 0.004s slower than Verstappen on the medium tyre in the early running, before ending up 0.095s adrift on the softest C5 compound Pirellis. Team-mate Logan Sargeant was 1.4s off the pace in 14th.
Williams impressed McLaren with its low-speed performance as far back as June’s Canadian GP, and the combination of very long main straight, the high altitude robbing all cars of downforce, and a preponderance of low-speed corners on this track could potentially suit Williams quite well, particularly with Albon’s capacity to hang on to the car through the higher-speed esses in the middle of the lap.
Sergio Perez lapped within the three-tenth tolerance of Verstappen Red Bull has declared acceptable, but this was only good enough for third fastest.
Lando Norris was fourth fastest for McLaren, just six hundredths clear of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, while the other McLaren of circuit debutant Oscar Piastri rounded out the top six.
Carlos Sainz was seventh in the other Ferrari, lapping within two tenths of Leclerc despite losing a chunk of the session to a hydraulic leak that caused Sainz to go over the grass at Turn 1 after the power steering cut out.
Daniel Ricciardo - whose AlphaTauri lost a piece of bodywork early on in the session along the main straight - was eighth, while Esteban Ocon’s Alpine and Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin both also set times on the soft tyre quick enough to bump Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes out of the top 10.
Three drivers made their F1 debuts in this session, as part of rules requiring teams to devote free practice running to rookies.
Ferrari protege Oliver Bearman was the quickest of these newcomers, going 15th quickest with his final flying lap of the session in Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.
Isack Hadjar was 17th in Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri and Frederik Vesti was 19th in George Russell’s Mercedes.
Formula 2 points leader and 2023 Alfa Romeo reserve driver Theo Pourchaire also drove in this session, replacing Valtteri Bottas, but Pourchaire failed to complete a flying lap after reporting problems with his car’s brake pedal.
Practice 1 Results
|Pos||Name||Car||Best Time||Gap Leader|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m19.718s|
|3||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||1m20.015s||+0.297s|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||1m20.568s||+0.850s|
|10||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m20.687s||+0.969s|
|13||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m21.129s||+1.411s|
|16||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m21.347s||+1.629s|
|17||Isack Hadjar||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||1m21.941s||+2.223s|