FP1 also offered the opportunity to see some young drivers make their F1 debut as Frederik Vesti for Mercedes, Jack Doohan for Alpine, Theo Pourchaire for Alfa Romeo, Isack Hadjar for AlphaTauri and Oliver Bearman for Haas all took to the track.
The run programmes of the teams were affected by the inclusion of a 2024 test tyre that each team had to use at some point throughout the session.
With Daniel Ricciardo, Oscar Piastri and Doohan all on track, there were three Australians on the entry list for the first time since the British Grand Prix in 1977.
Early mechanical troubles
Early on, the rookies were forced to get to grips with their new machinery. The Alfa Romeo of Theo Pourchaire was forced to pit after suffering from a potential brake issue. Next was the turn of Isack Hadjar, who suffered with anti-stall after cruising too slowly around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Charles Leclerc complained about an engine issue with his Ferrari at the start. Not long after this complaint, his team-mate Carlos Sainz was forced to leave the track multiple times on his way back to the pits with no power steering after suffering a minor hydraulics issue.
Another driver to be forced to pit was Lando Norris as his MCL60 suffered gear issues in the pitlane.
A brief yellow flag was shown on the long main straight due to a piece of debris that remained for a considerable amount of the session.
Williams in heaven
On the medium tyre, Sergio Perez was able to give his home fans something to cheer about as he went to the top of the timing sheet a quarter of the way through the session. As has been the case for most of the season, Verstappen didn’t take long to push Perez back to second as the Dutchman went top soon after.
Albon was rapid and spent the opening 30 minutes consistently in the top three alongside the two Red Bulls. The speed of the Williams on the straights seemed to pay off more than expected early on in Mexico.
With some teams beginning to try their luck on the soft tyre, the McLarens began to show their raw pace as Lando Norris briefly went to the top of the times. This was instantly ruined by Verstappen once again, who went half a second quicker on the soft tyre.
However, it wasn’t all smiles for Verstappen and Red Bull. The Dutch driver complained of something loose falling between his feet in the cockpit. As a result, he boxed and missed out on some track time towards the end of the session.
Verstappen on top again
Meanwhile, the unfortunate earlier issue for Pourchaire in the Alfa Romeo persisted and led to him having to retire the car for the session. This meant that the young Frenchman’s second F1 event didn’t even last one full lap at racing speed.
With less than 15 minutes remaining, the drivers all began to push for flying laps as part of their soft tyre runs. Once again, the Williams of Albon exceeded expectations and went to second, splitting the two Red Bulls.
After the hour concluded, Verstappen still sat atop the times with Albon and Perez close behind. Then, the McLarens and Ferraris finished the session comfortably, with Ricciardo, Ocon and Lance Stroll rounding out the top ten. Meanwhile, Mercedes didn’t have a session to cheer about, with Hamilton down in eleventh as the only representative of their true pace.
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