Verstappen quickest in opening Mexican GP practice

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Max Verstappen kicked off Formula 1’s return to Mexico by topping the timesheets in first practice at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Verstappen posted a fastest lap time of 1:25.990 in a session that saw all of the drivers heading out to get as much mileage as possible to learn the track.

This weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix is the first to be held since 1992, with the track in Mexico City being reprofiled in places to be up to Formula 1 standards.

Overnight rain left the track damp for the first 30 minutes of the session, forcing the drivers to head out on the intermediate tire before eventually making the switch over to slicks.

Verstappen rose to the top of the timesheets with five minutes remaining, taking top spot by three-tenths of a second ahead of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat who had led for much of the session.

Replays did show that Verstappen cut one of the esses on his final lap, but his time was not deleted by the stewards, allowing him to retain top spot.

Nico Rosberg’s hopes of ending his recent run of bad luck were dashed in FP1 as a brake fire developed on his Mercedes, forcing the German to sit out most of the session. He eventually returned to the track for one flying lap at the very end of FP1, finishing sixth-fastest.

Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton finished a further half a second back in P11, but like most of the drivers, the three-time world champion spent much of his session focusing on mileage instead of optimum lap time.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen also had a brake issue develop on his car, but a quick repair from Ferrari allowed him to rally to third place ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel in P4. Daniel Ricciardo followed his former teammate home in fifth.

Following Rosberg in sixth, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jr. managed to slip into seventh and eighth, while home favorite Sergio Perez ended the session ninth. Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten for Williams.

FP2 for the Mexican Grand Prix is live on NBC Sports Live Extra from 4pm ET, with delayed-as-live coverage being shown on NBCSN at 11:30pm ET.