Verstappen tops first practice in Mexico City

Teenager Max Verstappen set the fastest time of the opening practice session for Mexico’s first grand prix in 23 years.

The Toro Rosso driver set a time of 1:25.990 late in the session as the damp conditions that prevailed at the start of running improved. The Dutch driver finished 0.305 seconds ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen third, with an identical time to Kvyat’s 1: 26.295.

Early morning rain saw drivers begin the session in damp conditions and with the newly laid surface still settling the track was severely lacking in grip. Thus most drivers opted for intermediate tyres in the opening stages. After initial exploratory laps, Raikkonen set the first time of the session, a 1:37.169 after 12 minutes.

The brief wet weather tyre phase of the session saw Williams’ Valtteri Bottas at the top of the order with a time 1:31.868 and 20 minutes in to the session the Finn was also the first to decide the crossover point had been reached as he emerged on medium compound slick Pirelli tyres. He again made the running with his first lap of 1:32.489. He then lowered the benchmark to 1:30.678.

With the half hour mark reached and the P130 tyres handed back the Finn led by half a second from champion elect Lewis Hamilton with local hero Sergio Perez third, 1.3s down on Bottas’ time.

The lack of grip on the remodelled circuit was still catching drivers out, however, with most running wide at various points through the fast and flowing ‘Esses’ as they attempted to find the limits of the conditions.

When running started again Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo rtose to the top ahead of Bottas and Hamilton, with Kvyat fourth and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg fifth. As the hour mark approached, the Mercedes driver made their mark, however, and Nico Rosberg rose to the top of the timesheet with a time of 1:28.399, with Lotus recently announced 2016 drive Jolyon Palmer second ahead of Ricciardo. Bottas then return to P1 before Rosberg further lowered the benchmark to 1:27.226.

The German was soon in trouble, however, and in the stadium section he went off and returned to the Mercedes garage with flames coming from the brakes on both sides of the rear of his car. Team-mate Hamilton was quickly advised to cool his brakes.

Rosberg’s absence then allowed Kvyat to move to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:27.181 and the Russian then went half a second clear at the top with a better lap of 1:26.663

With ten minutes left in the session, Raikkonen then set a lap of 1:26.877 to go second behind Kvyat but then Verstappen popped up with his lap of Verstappen moves to the top of the order with a 1:25.990 to take spot. Finally Raikkonen made a marginal improvement to take second from Kvyat.

2015 Mexican Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m25.990s – 38
2 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1m26.295s 0.305s 27
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m26.295s 0.305s 36
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m26.886s 0.896s 31
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m27.185s 1.195s 28
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m27.196s 1.206s 19
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m27.303s 1.313s 26
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1m27.410s 1.420s 37
9 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m27.581s 1.591s 19
10 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m27.695s 1.705s 24
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m27.723s 1.733s 27
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m28.498s 2.508s 27
13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m28.559s 2.569s 30
14 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m28.579s 2.589s 25
15 Jolyon Palmer Lotus/Mercedes 1m28.711s 2.721s 24
16 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m29.099s 3.109s 16
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m30.072s 4.082s 17
18 Alexander Rossi Marussia/Ferrari 1m30.619s 4.629s 23
19 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m32.091s 6.101s 9
20 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 1m32.866s 6.876s 11

Image: Red Bull Content Pool

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