Mexico GP | Verstappen narrowly beats Hamilton in FP3

Max Verstappen fastest in final practice at the Mexico Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton P2 for the third successive session.

Red Bull rule the roost in Formula One at the Mexican Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen following Ricciardo by topping final practice. Lowering the pace towards a 1:16 lap, and keeping the championship-chasing Mercedes second best. While Pierre Gasly’s session ended early with another Renault power unit failure.

Flying qualifying simulations hit the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez track come Saturday morning, with Verstappen going fastest overall on the 45th-minute mark.

Verstappen’s fastest time of the day, another new absolute track record for Formula One, came as the Dutchman looked to improve on a second flying lap. Improving, despite being unhappy with his final sector again as time began to get away as the lap progressed.

Second-placed Hamilton also found the final sector troubling, as he looked to find the optimal line through the stadium. Eventually completing a clean lap to move up the order, just seven-hundredths from P1.

Ferrari moved up the order in final practice to end the hour in third place. With just one-tenth splitting Vettel from Verstappen, four-hundredths from his title-rival.

Vettel’s new found pace saw the German out-do his title-rival in the opening sector by three-tenths during the qualifying runs. Much to the surprise of Hamilton as he continued to struggle.

Lewis’ struggles caused the Briton to question a power issue. Though the team rebuffed the query claiming they could not see anything on the data.

Pierre Gasly, on the other hand, missed out on final practice with yet another power unit problem at the Mexican Grand Prix. Taking the Frenchman out of practice inside the opening five minutes after a puff of smoke spurted out the exhaust as he exited the esses.

Swiftly parking inside the stadium near to the podium, before attempting to restart the unit on track. Though, not able to, the car was soon recovered to the pit lane for the team to work on. With Toro Rosso’s rubber glove-laden mechanics spending the remainder of the session under the chassis replacing the battery.

Missing 55 of the 60 minutes of FP3 ensured Gasly would round out practice with just 10- laps completed across all three sessions and the likelihood of a further grid penalty.

Whereas in the sister-Toro Rosso car, Brendon Hartley rounded out the qualifying simulations in 11th place. A much stronger showing of single lap pace than at the USGP a week ago as the Kiwi continues to build confidence and understanding in F1.

Throughout FP3, a hoard of drivers continued to struggle with braking at the first corner. Heavily locking their front Pirelli’s before sailing on over the grass before re-entering the track at Turn 3.

An early casualty of Turn 1 was Sergio Perez as the Mexican locked-up at the end of the long main straight. With the home crowd favourite joined on the casualty list soon after by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz.

Pos Driver Team Engine Laps Time Gap
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG 20 1’17.113
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 23 1’17.188 0.075
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 21 1’17.230 0.117
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 18 1’17.283 0.17
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG 10 1’17.361 0.248
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 27 1’17.517 0.404
7 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 20 1’18.040 0.927
8 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 18 1’18.165 1.052
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault Renault 21 1’18.208 1.095
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 21 1’18.380 1.267
11 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Renault 23 1’18.602 1.489
12 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 23 1’18.690 1.577
13 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 20 1’19.066 1.953
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 19 1’19.205 2.092
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 27 1’19.331 2.218
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 22 1’19.565 2.452
17 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 22 1’19.586 2.473
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 16 1’19.826 2.713
19 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 25 1’20.030 2.917
20 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Renault 2 1’25.526 7.725

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