Mexico City: Daniel Ricciardo outpaced championship-chasing Lewis Hamilton to top the times in yesterday’s second free practice ahead of tomorrow’s Mexican Grand Prix.
The Australian, showing his Red Bull car was competitive in the rarified, thin air conditions, clocked a best lap in one minute and 17.801 seconds to outpace the three-time champion’s Mercedes by one-tenth of a second.
Hamilton, who needs a top five finish tomorrow to clinch his fourth drivers’ world title, was outpaced earlier in the morning’s opening free practice session by his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Ricciardo’s Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen was third, before he was halted by an engine failure, ahead of Hamilton’s only remaining title rival four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.
The Ferrari driver endured a painful episode during the session when he had to abort a lap and drive back to the pits after feeling a stinging fluid in the seat of his car.
His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fifth ahead of Bottas, who was sixth, two-time champion Fernando Alonso of McLaren Honda and local hero Sergio Perez of Force India.
Nico Hulkenberg was ninth for Renault and Esteban Ocon 10th in the second Force India.
On a bright, dry and hot afternoon at the Autodromo Hermando Rodriguez, there were incidents throughout the session.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean spun at the final corner in his Haas after only six minutes and the session was briefly red-flagged to clear the debris from his delaminated tyres.
Once the action resumed, Hamilton spun at the exit of Turn 11 and flat-spotted a set of tyres. He drove gingerly back to the pits.
Verstappen topped the times after 20 minutes ahead of a resurgent Alonso before Vettel reported “something burst” in his cockpit.
The circuit continued to catch many drivers out and Carlos Sainz of Renault, Canadian teenager Lance Stroll of Williams and new boy Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso all experienced spins and recovered.
Hamilton then roared back into contention, clocking the first lap inside 1:18 to go top in 1:17.932 shortly before Ricciardo trimmed that time by one-tenth to end the opening day on top.