Bottas tops opening Mexican GP practice, Celis crashes out

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Valtteri Bottas led Mercedes to a one-two finish in first practice for the Mexican Grand Prix, beating Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton by four-tenths of a second on Friday morning at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Bottas and Hamilton arrived in Mexico off the back of clinching Mercedes its fourth straight constructors’ title last Sunday in Austin, but were tipped to face a sterner test due to the high-downforce setup required for this weekend given the high altitude levels.

Bottas was able to make a strong start to the weekend regardless, topping his first FP1 since the British Grand Prix back in July with a fastest time of 1:17.824 on Friday morning.

The Finn was followed by Hamilton in P2, four-tenths of a second further back, although Mercedes was the only front-running team to go out on the ultra-soft compound tire.

Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo slotted into P3 and P4 respectively, half a second off Bottas’ time. Verstappen was limited to just 16 laps after Red Bull boxed him early, putting the car up on jacks in order to make a number of setup changes, as per the team.

F1 title outsider Sebastian Vettel wound up fifth for Ferrari, seven-tenths of a second down on Bottas, with teammate Kimi Raikkonen taking sixth overall.

Flying the flag for Mexico on home soil this weekend, Sergio Perez made a good start to the weekend by finishing seventh overall as the leading midfielder.

However, teammate for the session Alfonso Celis Jr. had a more troubled homecoming, crashing out at the final corner and causing a red flag stoppage, as well as a decent amount of damage to the car that will go back to Esteban Ocon for the rest of the weekend.

Fernando Alonso led McLaren’s charge in P8 as teammate Stoffel Vandoorne completed just three laps due to an engine issue, while Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10.

FP1 in Mexico also saw Antonio Giovinazzi (Haas), Charles Leclerc (Sauber) and Sean Gelael (Toro Rosso) all enjoy run-outs, taking positions 15th to 17th respectively, while Brendon Hartley’s session was cut short after a hydraulic leak.

FP2 takes place at 3pm ET later today in Mexico, live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.