After topping the morning timesheets at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Red Bull Racing again scored a 1-2 in the second practice session for the Mexican Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen outpacing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by 1500ths of a second. The Dutchman stopped at the edge of the track late in the session, however, with an apparent engine issue.
In the morning session the Red Bull duo were comfortably clear of the rest of the field, though Mercedes and Ferrari minimised hypersoft running in FP1, but in the qualifying runs of the second session both Verstappen and Ricciardo finished over a second clear of their chief rivals, Mercedes and Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel leading the way for the Scuderia with a fourth-placed time of 1:17.954. That left him 0.001s behind third-placed Carlos Sainz of Renault, but 1.234s of the pace set by Verstappen.
Both Red Bull drivers were quick early in the session, on ultrasoft tyres, and when Vettel became the first to try a qualifying simulation on hypersofts he only managed to post a time good enough for P2 behind Verstappen.
The Red Bulls then bolted on hypersofts for their performance runs and upped the pace considerably.
Verstappen posted a lap of 1:16.720 that put him ahead of the impressive Sainz, and then Ricciardo found enough pace to slot into P2 with a time 0.153s behind the Dutchman.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Verstappen, however, and towards the end of the session he coasted off track at Turn 3 and pulled over close to an escape road when his engine cut out.
Vettel’s qualifying simulation left him just one hundredth of a second ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the second, while sixth place was taken by Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley.
Mercedes, meanwhile, had a muted session, with Lewis Hamilton the quicker of its driver pairing. The championship leader ended the session with a best time of 1:18.100, almost 1.4s adrift of Verstappen. Team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished in P9 behind the second Ferrari of US Grand Prix winner Kimi Räikkönen. Tenth place in the session went to Sergio Pérez of Racing Point Force India.
2018 Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 21 1:16.720
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 32 1:16.873 0.153
3 Carlos Sainz Renault 35 1:17.953 1.233
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 42 1:17.954 1.234
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 36 1:18.046 1.326
6 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 35 1:18.061 1.341
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 40 1:18.100 1.380
8 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 42 1:18.133 1.413
9 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 40 1:18.140 1.420
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point Force India 24 1:18.167 1.447
11 Esteban Ocon Racing Point Force India 24 1:18.485 1.765
12 Romain Grosjean Haas 39 1:18.733 2.013
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber 39 1:19.024 2.304
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 36 1:19.047 2.327
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 30 1:19.096 2.376
16 Lance Stroll Williams 25 1:19.219 2.499
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 41 1:19.322 2.602
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 37 1:19.335 2.615
19 Fernando Alonso McLaren 31 1:19.543 2.823
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 35 1:19.670 2.950