Mexico GP | Vettel narrowly edges Hamilton in FP2

Second free practice at the Mexico GP topped by Sebastian Vettel.

Vamos Vettel at the Mexican Grand Prix, as the four-time champ edges Hamilton for the top spot. Bettering his British rival by four-thousandths of a second as supersofts slipped on for qualifying sims.

As the battle for the top spot became more relevant and track conditions continued to improve, Sebastian Vettel had the better of the Silver Arrows as his Prancing Horse paraded around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez marginally faster than the reigning champion.

From the off, it was the Ferrari’s picking a fight to be fastest. With Raikkonen out early to clean the track, alongside Wehrlein. As the Manor opened the timesheet with a 1:32.162.

Raikkonen responded to Wehrlein’s opener by lapping five seconds faster. But as Vettel struggled with warm up due to “very poor grip”, Wehrlein improved to regain the top spot with a 1:22.909.

Poor grip levels also hampered a handful of other drivers in the early stages, including Sergio Perez – who spun at the slow left-handed turn five – and Jenson Button – who was “really struggling for grip,” as “the rear [of his car] feels like it’s falling over”.

Vettel, once with heat in his tyres, was however able to improve and better his team-mate. Moving top on the medium tyres by one second to Raikkonen, before Hamilton demoted the German on softs by 1.6-seconds.

A switch of tyres, with Vettel taking on supersoft tyres, then followed. With Seb able to lap half a second faster than the Silver Arrows’ benchmark as he found close to two seconds on the option tyres.

Hamilton, however, was not able to improve as much between compounds. Only improving to second place at first, 0.013 seconds down on Vettel. Before reducing the gap to a slender four-thousandths of a second, despite catching traffic seven laps into his run on the supersoft tyres. Vettel’s time came during a qualifying simulation.

For the Ferrari-powered Haas team, their FP2 only saw only one car running for a majority of the 90-minutes as Romain Grosjean was garage bound early on.

Grosjean had missed the apex at turn 13 during his initial outing. But as Romain made his way around the track, the team radioed him to say “slow down, there’s a problem”. A problem that would keep the car out of action and surrounded in the garage by ERS warning barriers as the team set to work on finding and fixing the issue.

Romain would, though, return to the track late on and better what Gutierrez had been capable of. While Daniil Kvyat’s day would end in contrast, forced to park aside the pit entry after losing power late on and urgently told to switch his engine off.

FP2 flyers also highlighted a trend amongst drivers. With drivers throughout the field needing an extra lap to generate tyre temperature before being able to push on and start setting a competitive time.

FP2 also showed a difference in feeling at Mercedes. With Hamilton finding his practice start “good”, while Rosberg requested more attempts after feeling his launch was “under-engaged”.

 

Pos Driver Team Laps Time Gap Interval
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 47 1’19.790
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 37 1’19.794 0.004 0.004
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 46 1’20.225 0.435 0.431
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 37 1’20.259 0.469 0.034
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 43 1’20.448 0.658 0.189
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 43 1’20.574 0.784 0.126
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull 42 1’20.619 0.829 0.045
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams 41 1’20.629 0.839 0.01
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 46 1’20.974 1.184 0.345
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 25 1’21.003 1.213 0.029
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 39 1’21.193 1.403 0.19
12 Jenson Button McLaren 39 1’21.198 1.408 0.005
13 Felipe Massa Williams 45 1’21.326 1.536 0.128
14 Kevin Magnussen Renault 39 1’21.442 1.652 0.116
15 Sergio Perez Force India 41 1’21.579 1.789 0.137
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 44 1’21.785 1.995 0.206
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 42 1’21.980 2.19 0.195
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 42 1’21.997 2.207 0.017
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber 43 1’22.037 2.247 0.04
20 Romain Grosjean Haas 14 1’22.105 2.315 0.068
21 Esteban Ocon Manor 44 1’22.298 2.508 0.193
22 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 33 1’22.408 2.618 0.11