Lando Norris was the first car to venture back onto the track during FP2, followed closely by team-mate Oscar Piastri.
All drivers struggled to keep it on the track early on, with Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris all taking advantage of the circuit’s extensive runoff.
Ten minutes into the session, Ferrari headed the field with a 1-2, followed by the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on harder tyres.
Involved in much of the action at the start of the session, Lando Norris was confined to the pitlane after his car required a system reset having gone into limp mode.
King of the times and championship for much of the season, Max Verstappen clawed his way back into first place on harder tyres than his competitors just before the 20-minute mark.
Quiet start to the morning
With an hour to go, Alex Albon climbed inside the top three, surprising the paddock in his FW45 yet again – a theme he carried through the Mexican Grand Prix weekend too.
The running quitened down, as had the crowd after being sent home an hour prior to the start of FP2 – sparking controversy following the price of tickets and lack of running witnessed.
Before long, the first set of qualifying runs began as Carlos Sainz, who has been handed a ten-place grid penalty for his FP1 incident, speared to the top of the timings one second ahead of his nearest rival.
His Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc joined him to form a second 1-2 within half an hour, before Max Verstappen was forced to abort his first run after running wide.
When the Dutchman eventually got his time in, he was three tenths adrift of the Ferraris in third, as the Scuderia look well placed for an impressive result this weekend.
The experienced Lewis Hamilton, who has faced all kinds of new circuits in his career, put in an impressive laptime to trail Sainz by just three thousandths of a second in second place halfway through the session.
Staggeringly, the top seven – comprised of six different teams, was separated by three tenths of a second at the halfway stage, providing an early glimpse at how close qualifying could be on Saturday.
Before long, it was Fernando Alonso’s turn to sit atop the times, yet again three thousandths of a second the magic margin he had out front.
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