Mexican F1 Grand Prix 2018 Qualifying: Max Verstappen, Red Bull Dominate

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistOctober 26, 2018

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 26: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB14 TAG Heuer on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 26, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Red Bull dominated Friday's action at the Mexican Formula One Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen leading a one-two for the team in both sessions.

Daniel Ricciardo nestled in behind his team-mate in FP1 and FP2, as a number of high-profile names struggled to keep pace. In the latter session Sebastian Vettel was fourth in his Ferrari, 1.234 seconds back, while Lewis Hamilton was even further adrift in seventh.

Hamilton has a great chance to clinch the driver's championship this weekend. A top seven finish is all the Mercedes man needs to win this prize for a fifth time.

On Saturday the drivers will be back for final practice and qualifying. Here's a look at how things have gone so far Mexico.

    

FP2 Recap

Here are how things shaped up in second practice:

After they both struggled to show their best form in the earlier session, more was anticipated from the Mercedes and Ferrari pairs in the afternoon. However, the Red Bull duo appeared to have the measure on them, as well as the rest of the field.

In FP1 a lot of drivers suffered with severe degradation, with the hypersoft tyres getting chewed up quickly on a dirty track. Verstappen and Ricciardo appear in the best place to cope with that.

The early stages of the session summed up what was a dominant day for the Red Bull team:

But even they didn't have a totally incident-free day on a challenging circuit, as Verstappen ran into trouble late on:

Meanwhile, further back in the field it was tough going for the Mercedes of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Usually so dominant in so many different scenarios, they were well off the pace throughout the day and especially in the afternoon.

Per F1 journalist Phil Duncan, with the Saubers also looking strong on Friday, there was definitely a trend in terms of the stronger engines:

Of the usual challengers it was Vettel who was able to put together the best fight, which will bode well for him ahead of a last-gasp attempt to keep the title alive on Sunday.

While it's expected that the performance of the top teams will improve over the weekend, the early indications are that Red Bull are poised to dominate. But behind them we may see one of the most fascinating battles of the season.

           

FP1 Recap

Here are the standings following the first session at the Mexican Grand Prix:

As is so often the case in first practice the early stages were tentative, with Kimi Raikkonen sat atop the standings for long spells as the only man to set a time. A number of drivers were also on the radio complaining about significant tyre degradation. 

There was something for the home fans to cheer in the early parts of the session, as their home hope Sergio Perez was looking sharp in his Force India:

The pace accelerated when the Red Bull drivers started to get serious. Following Verstappen's win at this venue last year the team were expected to be strong again in 2018 and they showed promising signs in FP1.

With 30 minutes to go, it was Verstappen who moved to the top of the pile with a time of 1:16.656, with his team-mate the man closest to him.

Meanwhile, Ferrari stars Vettel and Raikkonen were struggling to get up to speed, with the former having a big lockup and the latter bringing out a brief yellow flag after a spin.

Meanwhile, Hamilton appeared to be having some issues with his power output:

In the end, neither the Ferrari drivers nor the Mercedes drivers were willing to push things quite as hard as Verstappen in the first session, allowing the Red Bull man to keep his spot at the top. 

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