June 5, 2023
Charles Leclerc runs in Friday practice FP2. Mexico October 2022.

FP2: George Russell is fastest in Mexico while Charles Leclerc suffers a big crash

George Russell led FP2 in Mexico City as he made up time lost in FP1, while Charles Leclerc’s session ended early after a crash at Turn 8.

The rear of Leclerc’s Ferrari was badly damaged after its fall caused a long delay at the red flag as marshals repaired the barriers on the left-hander, recorded at around 120mph.

FP1 had been a hard-fought session as the drivers worked hard to complete as much of their scheduled practice programs as possible, with FP2 set aside for testing 2023 Pirelli prototype tires – like last time at Austin.

The only exception to this rule were the five riders who missed the first practice session – with Russell, Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon all having 45 minutes to make up for lost time and all finishing in the top three of the session.

Kevin Magnussen had hoped to get the same opportunity but his car’s engine failure in FP1 while Pietro Fittipaldi was behind the wheel required a new combustion engine to be fitted – leaving it stuck in the garage and with a five-place penalty for Sunday getting sluggish when it finally showed up, it was a fresh ICE that went over its allotment for the season.

Alex Albon from Williams also wanted to get out on the track, but spent the first 25 minutes in the pits.

That will no doubt have prevented them from getting used to a unique challenge in Mexico, as the altitude means the cars and drivers have to work with around 20% less air density under full load – affecting both downforce and drag on the cars.

As we’d seen at Austin, the FP1 absentees topped the timesheets as they strapped on soft 2022 tires in FP2, Russell was comfortably the choice of the group as he became the first rider to finish under the 1:20- Boundary dropped and a clock clocked 1:19.970 to lead Tsunoda by eight-tenths of a second.

But the session was abandoned due to a crash when Leclerc slid into the wall exiting Turn 8, suffering slight oversteer while turning and turning, severely damaging the rear of his Ferrari.

He survived the incident unscathed, but his Ferrari mechanics will have been left with a tremendous workload overnight.

The session was suspended for more than 20 minutes while the barriers were repaired and the remaining drivers quickly rejoined the track for the remainder of the session for Pirelli’s tire test.

As in the United States, Pirelli’s prototype compounds were kept secret as the tires were run unmarked during the session, making it difficult to determine a competitive order from the test tire times.

Of the 2023 hoop runners, however, Lewis Hamilton was just the fastest ahead of the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, closely followed by Ferrari pairing Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

However, as in FP1, the Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari drivers were all very close. The top six riders – including Alpine’s Fernando Alonso – were separated by just 0.192s in the opening session, while the gap between fourth and eighth-placed Hamilton and Sainz was just 0.184s.

The riders had been focused on long runs around the proving grounds before the end of the session, which then ended two minutes after Zhou Guanyu pulled into the Foro Sol Stadium section of the circuit, citing a hydraulic issue over team radio that halted his session .

FP2 classification

1 George RUSSELL Mercedes 1:19.970
2 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +0.828
3 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.207
4 Lewis HAMILTONMercedes +1,539
5Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +1.609
6 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +1.618
7 Charles LECLERC-Ferrari +1.648
8 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +1.723
9 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +2.023
10 Pierre GASLY AlphaTauri +2,134
11 Fernando ALONSO Alpine +2.367
12Sebastian VETTEL Aston Martin +2.401
13 Alexander Albon Williams +2.477
14 Lando NORRIS McLaren +2.768
15Daniel RICCIARDO McLaren +2.793
16 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +2.870
17 Mick SCHUMACHER Haas F1 Team +2.909
18 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +3.346
19 Nicholas LATIFI Williams +3,350
20ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo +3.399

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