Verstappen tops first Mexican practice despite quick lap off

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

133Max VerstappenNEDToro Rosso-Renault1m25.990s
226Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull-Renault1m26.295s
37Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari1m26.295s
45Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1m26.886s
53Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Renault1m27.185s
66Nico RosbergGERMercedes1m27.196s
777Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes1m27.303s
855Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault1m27.410s
911Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes1m27.581s
1019Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes1m27.695s
1144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1m27.723s
129Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari1m28.498s
1313Pastor MaldonadoVENLotus-Mercedes1m28.559s
1412Felipe NasrBRZSauber-Ferrari1m28.579s
1530Jolyon PalmerGBRLotus-Mercedes1m28.711s
1627Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes1m29.099s
1714Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda1m30.072s
1853Alexander RossiUSAManor-Ferrari1m30.619s
1922Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda1m32.091s
2028Will StevensGBRManor-Ferrari1m32.866s