Daniel Ricciardo led Red Bull to the top of the timesheets in second practice for the Mexican Grand Prix on Friday afternoon as all six drivers from the three leading Formula 1 teams were covered by less than half a second.
In an incident-packed session that saw title contenders Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton both hit trouble, it was Ricciardo who rose to the head of the field as Red Bull flexed its muscle at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Taking advantage of the high-downforce setup requirements due to the high altitude levels in Mexico City, Ricciardo was able to turn in a fastest time of 1:17.801 to finish fastest, one-tenth of a second clear of Hamilton in the lead Mercedes.
Hamilton’s session got off to a rough start when he suffered a huge spin exiting Turn 11, and while he avoided any damage, the Briton lost a chunk of track time while his Mercedes team checked his car over.
Ferrari rival Vettel also suffered a setback when the fire extinguisher in his car leaked, leaving a white stain on the back of his race suit and forcing the team into finding a replacement, also leaving him on the back foot.
Vettel was able to get out and complete a qualifying simulation on the ultra-soft tire, lapping two-tenths slower than Ricciardo to finish fourth behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen followed in P5, with Valtteri Bottas rounding out the top six in the second Mercedes, less than half a second off his teammate.
Fernando Alonso led McLaren’s charge by taking seventh, finishing as the lead midfielder, while Force India’s Sergio Perez took eighth, two places ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon as Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg split the pair in P9.
An early red flag period was sparked when Romain Grosjean suffered a sizeable left-rear tire blowout after an issue, leaving debris from his Haas car strewn across the track and ending the Frenchman’s session in the process.
Stoffel Vandoorne also faced a setback in his McLaren early on, with a power issue forcing his engineers to wheel him back to the garage from the pit lane.
Pierre Gasly was, like Grosjean, sidelined by a problem, completing just 10 laps, plus a number of drivers suffered spins due to the low grip nature of the circuit, leaving plenty of questions to be answered in final practice on Saturday morning.
FP3 is live from Mexico on the NBC Sports app from 11am ET on Saturday.