The FORMULA 1 MEXICO CITY GRAND PRIX Presented by Heineken began at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez in front of 108,981-strong crowd, when Ferrari reminded us how unpredictable the sport can be. The celebration of 60 years of Formula 1 commenced with eyes on the future as Mexico City welcomed the three-year renewal of its race contract with first track session showcasing some youngsters aiming for a Formula 1 drive in the years to come.
Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari topped the times in the opening session with a 1:20.707, but teammate Charles Leclerc brought proceedings to a standstill in the longer second session when he hit the barrier hard on the outside of Turn 8.
“I’m okay – but not the car,” said a rueful Leclerc, and the Ferrari mechanics face a late night as they repair what looked like substantial damage to the car’s rear end. George Russell went on to top the times for Mercedes with a 1:19.970, and the fans waving ‘Go Checo!’ flags saw local hero Sergio Pérez finishing fifth, but the day’s biggest news came off-track.
Before track action began, Red Bull Racing learned they must pay $7 million for a breach of F1’s cost cap in 2021. The team also faces a 10 per cent reduction in the time spent in wind-tunnel testing of its new car for 2023. Governing body the FIA called this ‘a minor sporting penalty’, but Team Principal Christian Horner said it could mean a loss in lap times of between a quarter and a half a second.
Meanwhile the Alpine team welcomed the news that Fernando Alonso’s seventh place in the last race in Austin has been reinstated on appeal, meaning that the French outfit now enjoys an 11-point lead over McLaren as they fight for fourth spot in the Constructors’ Standings.
Looking at the future, the one-hour opening session featured five young drivers looking to cement their own places at the top of the sport for 2023 and beyond.
F1’s global reach was underlined as Jack Doohan of Australia, the 19-year-old son of 500cc legend Mick, had his first outing in an official F1 session with Alpine Renault, while 21-year-old American
Logan Sargeant enjoyed another rehearsal for a probable full-time drive with Williams in 2023.
Nyck de Vries, the 27-year-old Dutchman who is already certain of graduating to the grid full-time in 2023 with Alpha Tauri, enjoyed another useful session for Mercedes, adding to the outstanding points finish he recorded in a one-off race with Williams at Monza this year.
Also running was Pietro Fittipaldi, 26-year-old grandson of two-time F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, who is reserve driver for Haas but also had to stop early with engine problems.
The session stopped two minutes early when the Alpha Tauri of 20-year-old New Zealander Lawson pulled to a halt with its brakes on fire. But Lawson had the consolation of finishing best of the temporary quintet in 16th place.
The most dramatic moment of that session came when World Champion and three-time Mexico winner Max Verstappen spun his Red Bull without hitting the walls. “Unbelievable!” chuckled Verstappen. “I couldn’t control it – so little grip.” He will hope for more on Saturday as he bids to take pole for the second time in Mexico.
Source - FORMULA One press release