March 27, 2023
Mexican GP: Russell leads second F1 practice session, Leclerc shunts

Mexican GP: Russell leads second F1 practice session, Leclerc shunts

In the extended 90-minute session, the drivers focused on running Pirelli’s prototype rubber for next year, building on learnings from Austin a week ago with a softer compound selection.

The riders were required to complete identical programs throughout the session, consisting of two five-lap runs before then completing two eight-lap runs.

Russell was one of just five drivers allowed to use the 2022 tire compounds in Friday afternoon’s FP2 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, having sat in for Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries in FP1.

Along with Russell, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Williams’ Alex Albon rode the 2022 tires in the first half of the session.

Russell set the fastest lap time of 1:19.970 on the soft compound tire and finished eight tenths of a second ahead of Tsunoda in second place. Ocon was a further four tenths of a second adrift of third place for Alpine after the trio completed their first runs on Medium.

With the rest of the field concentrating on Pirelli’s 2023 tyres, the race was halted after 33 minutes of the session when a red flag was thrown after Leclerc crashed heavily at Turn 7 and lost the rear of his Ferrari F1-75 while cornering .

Leclerc was on the Pirelli prototype tire three laps from his third stint but crashed the rear of his car into the barrier at the entrance to the Esses, causing damage to the rear wing and left corner. The Monegasque quickly radioed that he was fine, but said, “It’s not the car.”

The damage to the barrier meant it was 20 minutes before racing could resume. At this point, all drivers focused on Pirelli prototypes for the remainder of the session.

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap time on the prototype tire in his third stint after pitting halfway through his second race. The seven-time world champion finished the race 1.5 seconds behind Mercedes team-mate Russell at the front of the field.

He narrowly beat Red Bull driver and home favorite Sergio Perez, who was just seven-hundredths of a second down after reporting rear-lock problems earlier in the session. Perez was also seen trying a number of different lines at Turn 1 after noticing some jumping at the end of the straight.

Perez’ Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen followed in sixth, finishing within a tenth of title rival Hamilton’s best performance of 2021 in the prototypes.

Leclerc’s lap time, set on the prototype tires during his second stint, was still good enough for seventh place ahead of his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, while Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly completed the top 10.

Fernando Alonso finished FP2 in 11th for Alpine ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, while Albon was only able to manage 13th after completing just a short run on the 2022 softs before moving onto the prototype tires for Williams changed.

McLaren duo Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo finished the session in 14th and 15th respectively, ahead of Lance Stroll in the second Aston Martin, followed by Mick Schumacher in 17th for Haas.

Kevin Magnussen was limited to 20 laps during the session after losing the first half hour due to an engine change by his Haas team following the stoppage in FP1 when Pietro Fittipaldi was in the car.

Magnussen will take a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race due to the engine change, which was outside of his season allotment.

Due to the time lost, Haas decided against running him on the 2022 tires and instead focused on the Pirelli prototype run, leaving him just 18th overall ahead of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.

Zhou showed a red flag in FP2 with less than two minutes left on the clock after reporting a hydraulic failure and pulled to the side of the track at Foro Sol after being ordered to stop his car.

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