Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo set the quickest time of second practice for the Mexican Grand Prix, edging championship leader Lewis Hamilton by just over a tenth of a second.
In a tight session in which just 1.021 seconds separated first place from 10th, Ricciardo ran quickest early on, using soft tyres to top the order ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen.
The two Red Bull drivers dropped down the order when Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas bolted on ultrasofts after half an hour but Ricciardo was soon back on top with a lap of 1:17.801 set when moved to the purple-banded tyres as the session approached its midpoint.
Verstappen took third place in the session, with a lap of 1:17.932 that saw him finish the session just three hundredths of a seconds behind Hamilton. However, the Dutchman completed just 17 laps during the session as he was called back to the garage to investigate excess oil consumption.
Sebastian Vettel’s slim hopes of keeping his title chances alive with a victory here were given encouragement with fourth in the session, just over a tenth of a second behind title rival Hamilton. He was followed, a tenth further back, by team-mate Kimi Räikkönen. Valtteri Bottas, who was first in the morning session, slide to sixth in the afternoon, half a second adrift of Ricciardo, as he complained about poor grip.
Eighth in the morning, Fernando Alonso rose to seventh in the second session, with a time of 1:18.508, 0.707 off the pace. The McLaren driver is set for a number of engine-related grid penalties on Sunday, however.
Home hero Sergio Perez confirmed Force India’s solid pace with eighth place, 0.927 behind Ricciardo but just under five hundredths of a second clear of ninth-placed Nico Hulkenberg of Renault. The German was the last man inside a second of top spot. Tenth place went to Esteban Ocon in the second Force India who finished 1.021 behind Ricciardo.
Elsewhere, Haas’ Romain Grosjean completed just three laps before he suffered significant damage to his car following a spin on the exit of Turn 17. The Frenchman managed to avoid crashing but following the spin his rear-left tyre delaminated and the flailing rubber caused substantial bodywork damage. With debris across the track the red flags were brought out. Grosjean limped to the pits but took no further part in the session.
2017 Mexican Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 26 1:17.801
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 40 1:17.932 0.131
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 17 1:17.964 0.163
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 35 1:18.051 0.250
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 40 1:18.142 0.341
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 43 1:18.299 0.498
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 26 1:18.508 0.707
8 Sergio Perez Force India 41 1:18.728 0.927
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 19 1:18.775 0.974
10 Esteban Ocon Force India 42 1:18.822 1.021
11 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 30 1:19.060 1.259
12 Felipe Massa Williams 37 1:19.206 1.405
13 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 40 1:19.423 1.622
14 Lance Stroll Williams 42 1:19.524 1.723
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 32 1:19.844 2.043
16 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 38 1:20.306 2.505
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 35 1:20.318 2.517
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 38 1:20.362 2.561
19 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 10 1:21.745 3.944
20 Romain Grosjean Haas 3 1:25.526 7.725