Mixed race for Mexican duo in home Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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Neither Sergio Perez nor Esteban Gutierrez enjoyed the Mexican Grand Prix they would have preferred, but still managed to excite their home crowd at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Perez spent most of his race stuck behind the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, and with the top-end advantage of the cars in front of him, Perez was unable to get by.

The Sahara Force India driver eventually ended in 10th place, to keep his streak of consecutive points finishes alive to eight races and counting since the German Grand Prix in July.

“We knew before race, if there was one car we didn’t want to be fighting with, for position, it was a Williams,” Perez told NBCSN after the race. “We struggled a lot behind them. It was difficult to get them. We just spent the whole race behind. Nothing I could do to get them.”

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 30:  Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India waves to the crowd on the drivers parade before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 30, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 30: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India waves to the crowd on the drivers parade before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 30, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Gutierrez’ race was less fruitful, starting 17th and finishing 19th on a weekend where Haas F1 Team struggled for performance from the off.

Gutierrez made it up to 12th early following a battle with Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, and after surviving once Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson had collided. But despite switching late from mediums to softs, he was unable to make up ground to the finish.

“It was a difficult race. We had to take care a lot of the brakes. Braked almost 200m before. It wasn’t ideal,” Gutierrez told NBCSN.

But on the whole, Gutierrez was still pleased to take part in his first of what he hopes will be several home races.

“It was a very special, emotional moment in my career,” he added. “I am confident I will be back. We’re pushing all the way and we’ll find out more in the next two weeks.

“I wish we could have been able to deliver something better this weekend but, unfortunately, we were not able to this time. However, it was an amazing weekend – racing in my home country in front of all the Mexican people – and I really want to thank them because they’ve really made it a race to remember.”

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 30: Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico and Haas F1 on the drivers parade before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 30, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images
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MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.