Max Verstappen led the way in the opening free practice session of the first Mexican Grand Prix weekend in twenty-three years despite running off track during his quickest lap.
Verstappen set the pace for his Scuderia Toro Rosso team with a late time of 1m25.990s, despite running across a run-off area in the esses section.
The session started in damp conditions following overnight rain, with drivers setting their initial laps on the Pirelli intermediate tyres, with the newly laid asphalt being extremely slippery.
Valtteri Bottas was quickest for the Williams Martini Racing team before drivers began to change to the dry weather tyres, with the Finn finishing the session down in seventh.
Daniil Kvyat placed second for the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team with a time of 1m26.295s, identical to the thousandth of a second to the time set by Kimi Raikkonen of the Scuderia Ferrari team, while the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel was fourth, 0.896s back on Verstappen’s time.
Daniel Ricciardo made it two Red Bulls in the top five, just ahead of the leading Mercedes AMG PETRONAS of Nico Rosberg, who experienced a scare mid-session when he headed to the pits with smoke and flames around his rear brakes. The German driver was able to return to the track late in the session for some more practice time.
Bottas ended seventh ahead of the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr, while home hero Sergio Perez finished the session ninth for the Sahara Force India team, with the Mexican receiving a good reception every time he left the pits.
Felipe Massa completed the top ten for Williams, just ahead of newly crowned triple World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who had a relatively quiet session for Mercedes.
Marcus Ericsson was thirteenth for the Sauber F1 Team ahead of the leading Lotus of Pastor Maldonado, with their respective team-mates Felipe Nasr and Jolyon Palmer just behind them. Palmer was once again running in place of Romain Grosjean in opening practice, and will take on the role in all of the remaining Grand Prix this season before taking over the drive full-time in 2016.
Nico Hulkenberg earned himself a reprimand at the end of the session by crossing the white pit entry line and ended down in sixteenth, ahead of only the two McLaren-Honda drivers and the two Manor F1 Team drivers.
Fernando Alonso finished just ahead of Alexander Rossi, while Jenson Button only completed nine laps before returning to the pits so his team could make its second engine change of the weekend ahead of second practice. Will Stevens also had a disrupted session, completing only eleven laps before a mechanical issue restricted him to the pits.
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Free Practice 1 Times
|1||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m25.990s|
|2||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m26.295s|
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m27.185s|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m27.410s|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||1m27.581s|
|16||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||1m29.099s|