Mexico GP | Hamilton sets the pace in FP1 despite tyre disadvantage

Lewis Hamilton claims P1 in FP1 at the Mexico Grand Prix.

Tumbling times in Mexico City as the dust cleared from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez, where Hamilton set the initial pace. Starting the day in the high 1:28s and ending with the only 1 minute 20, despite running on the hardest tyre on offer by Pirelli

When the green light came on to mark the start of the first practice session at the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix, Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen lead the early runners out of the pits onto a very dusty track.

Early dust levels were sufficient enough that while Alonso ran behind Palmer, a visible cloud of dust engulfed the McLaren as if it were during a wet session. With Fernando also locking his front-right under braking at turn one.

Alonso’s front-right lock up came as the balance of the car shifted while the DRS closed under braking. However, this did not fail to hamper the Spaniard from moving Ocon’s early 1:28.842 benchmark down by over two seconds and closer to last year‘s FP1 pace.

With the dust gradually clearing to produce a clean track, the benchmark continued to fall. With Bottas taking five-tenths of a second out of Alonso’s time before Rosberg shattered his pace by 1.8 seconds.

After initially ending his lap a second down on Rosberg – and despite his steering wheel dash not showing what gear he is in – Lewis then improved to better his championship-leading team-mate by eight-tenths of a second.

But before any other times were produced, a red flag was out as Felipe Nasr’s front wing failed after running over the exit kerb at turn 11.

The force put through the car as Nasr ran wide on exit saw the front wing of the Sauber split at the central structure. After rubbing along the floor, the broken sector then shattered across the track leading to the red flag in order for marshals to clean the area.

The red flag also marked the end of the session for Max Verstappen. With the Red Bull’s left-rear brake temperature soaring so high it set alight the brake tin.

At that stage, Verstappen found himself running as the highest Red Bull-   matching pace with Raikkonen but lapping slower than the Williams duo.

The early stages of the session showed a strong pace being set by the Williams drivers. With Bottas running third and Massa fourth, with the Finnish race posting the best first sector times overall to go seven-tenths down on Hamilton.

Later improvements, however, saw Force India and Ferrari leapfrog Bottas. With Perez and Hulkenberg moving from five-tenths down to three-tenths up with fresh supersoft tyres rather than the softs opted for by Williams.

Hamilton’s best time of the day came on the medium tyres, as Mercedes worked extensively on the hardest compound offered this weekend by Pirelli.

 

Pos Driver Team Laps Time Gap Interval
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 34 1’20.914
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 23 1’20.993 0.079 0.079
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 19 1’21.072 0.158 0.079
4 Sergio Perez Force India 23 1’21.200 0.286 0.128
5 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 23 1’21.409 0.495 0.209
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 34 1’21.447 0.533 0.038
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 32 1’21.673 0.759 0.226
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 27 1’21.727 0.813 0.054
9 Felipe Massa Williams 31 1’21.836 0.922 0.109
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 29 1’22.215 1.301 0.379
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 21 1’22.500 1.586 0.285
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 32 1’22.563 1.649 0.063
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 17 1’22.723 1.809 0.16
14 Max Verstappen Red Bull 10 1’22.877 1.963 0.154
15 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 23 1’22.910 1.996 0.033
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren 25 1’23.089 2.175 0.179
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber 12 1’23.089 2.175 0
18 Jenson Button McLaren 24 1’23.342 2.428 0.253
19 Kevin Magnussen Renault 32 1’23.556 2.642 0.214
20 Esteban Ocon Manor 30 1’24.083 3.169 0.527
21 Jolyon Palmer Renault 35 1’24.097 3.183 0.014
22 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 28 1’24.350 3.436 0.253