Verstappen logged a 1m19.718s on softs, having dispatched Lando Norris from top spot as the McLaren driver had been among the first of the frontrunners to switch to the red-walled tyre. Norris had gone just 0.008s faster than Verstappen’s medium-tyre effort of a 1m20.245s – but the Dutchman returned to the top on his first soft run.
Albon then set the best first sector as he offered Verstappen more than a token challenge and, although the Williams driver lost a sprinkling of time in the following two splits, he still sat within a tenth of his former team-mate.
This allowed the Anglo-Thai driver to split the Red Bulls, as Sergio Perez was approximately 0.3s behind Verstappen’s headline time. This put him above Norris, after the Briton’s brief spell at the top.
Charles Leclerc was fifth fastest after overcoming early worries after reporting a “metal noise” at full throttle on his opening tours of the circuit.
The full field, aside from Oscar Piastri, had trialled Pirelli’s prototype C4 tyre in the opening quarter of the session prior to their exploration of the compounds to be used over the rest of the weekend. Piastri used his prototype tyre allocation later to set his best time, which put him sixth overall.
Carlos Sainz was seventh fastest despite losing hydraulic pressure early in the session, which forced him to crawl back to the pitlane in fourth gear. Ferrari was able to implement a fix that allowed him to continue his running relatively unabated.
Daniel Ricciardo was just within a tenth of the Spaniard, as Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll completed the top 10 ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who was a second off Verstappen’s time.
Nico Hulkenberg jumped up to 12th at the end of the session, having had to abort an earlier quick lap on his softs after coming across a slow Aston Martin within the Foro Sol stadium section. This put him ahead of Zhou Guanyu, who was spotted with work being done to his Alfa Romeo towards the end of the session, and Williams’ Logan Sargeant.
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Ollie Bearman, Haas F1 Team
Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman claimed the 15th-fastest time in his first outing for Haas to end the session as the highest-placed rookie, an appearance he will follow up on with an FP1 appearance at Abu Dhabi.
A late lap put him ahead of Fernando Alonso, who was ahead of the 17th-placed Isack Hadjar, who replaced Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri in the opening practice session. Tsunoda will receive a grid penalty for the Mexico City GP, having taken a fifth gearbox and a new suite of power unit components.
Jack Doohan – who replaced Pierre Gasly at Alpine for Mexico’s FP1 session – was 18th-fastest over Frederik Vesti, who is currently second in this year’s F2 standings; the Dane stood in for George Russell at Mercedes.
Theo Pourchaire covered for Valtteri Bottas in FP1, but reported an alarm appearing on his dashboard which coincided with a long throttle pedal. Despite a check-up in the garage, he found the same issue on his subsequent returns to the track and thus did not post a lap time.