Nico Rosberg puts a Mercedes back on top in FP2 at the Mexican Grand Prix.
After a morning topped by Max Verstappen, FP2 opened with the same man crashing out of the session. But as the rain fell over the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mercedes found their feet to go back on top as Red Bull split the Silver Arrows.
In the morning session, Max Verstappen set a new Formula One record as he become the youngest driver to top a Formula One session with the fastest time around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in FP1. Come FP2 however his day took an immediate downhill turn as after just five minutes he crashed out of the session and brought out the red flag too.
Max’s crash came as he made his way out of the stadium section before he lost the rear of the car on exit. As the front peeled away from the racing line, the rear hit the wall causing the front to snap back and smash into the wall, snapping the front left suspension.
Once Verstappen’s car was cleared from the track and the red flags were switched for greens, another driver was making contact with the barriers as Valtteri Bottas crashed going in to turn one. Valtteri lost the rear of his Williams under braking as his rear wing stalled causing the car to spin to the left before the front wing took the initial impact and come off. Bottas continued to rub along the wall as he decelerated but was able to drive away from his crash and return to the pits with large black spots and a front end missing a wing.
Over the remainder of the session, the red flags later returned as Grosjean retired on the grass run off with mechanical issues striking his Lotus. As his car’s condition began to deteriorate, Romain reported; “Vibration on the rear left,” followed by “I have to stop the car – there is smoke coming from the rear.”
Like Bottas, Hamilton also span on track during FP2 except the now three-time World Champion did not deal any damage his winning car as a result of his spin at turn four. Spins were regular in the opening practice session and more drivers continued to struggle with grip levels in the second practice session as rain began to drip over the track and reduce grip even more.
Outside of the spins and crashes, Mercedes and Red Bull continued to be strong on their long runs with Hamilton slower on his flyer than his team-mate but matching and bettering his long run pace at stages. Rosberg however held the better average as Hamilton regularly hit traffic.
Initially after switching from the medium to the soft compound tyres, Rosberg found over two seconds to drop his 1:24.6 second lap to a 1:22.2 and later finding another seven tenths. In the meantime, Hamilton had edged ahead of Nico by three tenths and created a full second gap between himself and Raikkonen.
Bottas remained in the pits for a long period following his early crash but still bettered his team-mate by six tenths of a second and by three places in the order. In between the two Williams drivers came the McLaren duo as a one-tenth gap saw Alonso finish ahead of Button.
After a strong start to the session which included topping the time sheet, Hulkenberg ended the day in 11th place and 1.8 seconds off the pace with Maldonado leading the Lotus duo in 12th. Pastor’s time may have been strong in relation to the nearby competitors but his day included a number of offs and his team-mate retiring.
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