George Russell put Mercedes at the top of the timesheets during second practice as Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crashed out in the Mexico City Grand Prix here on Friday.
But it was Russell who led the way with an early lap time of 1m 19.970s on 2022-spec soft tyres, given that the regular drivers who sat out FP1 were permitted to run their own programme for the first half of the session to help them make up for lost time (Russell having handed his car to Nyck de Vries).
Not long after Russell’s pace-setting effort, Leclerc lost control of his Ferrari at the entry to the high-speed Turn 7 and dramatically slid backwards into the barriers on the outside of Turn 8, inflicting significant damage on the car’s rear end and bringing out the red flags.
With Leclerc unharmed, his car cleared away and the barriers repaired, the action resumed shortly after the halfway mark, but there were no changes at the front of the order as drivers worked their way through further tyre tests.
Behind the pace-setting Russell, Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon also used the current C4 soft as they returned to action, albeit with the AlphaTauri driver some eight-tenths adrift, and the Alpine man more than a second off the pace.
Lewis Hamilton led the pack of cars running solely on the unmarked Pirellis, 1.5s down on his Mercedes team mate, followed closely by the Red Bulls of home favourite Sergio Perez and double world champion Max Verstappen.
Leclerc wound up P7 after his hefty crash, as Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and the other AlphaTauri of Gasly completed the top 10 positions in overcast but warm conditions.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, fresh from his P7 finish in Austin being reinstated, wound up 11th, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, the man he will replace at Aston Martin next season, with Alex Albon 13th after he sat out FP1 and lost around half an hour of track time FP2 as mechanics worked on his Williams.
McLaren pair Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo took P14 and P15 respectively, as Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin, the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen, Nicholas Latifi’s Williams and Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo brought up the rear – the latter signalling a slightly early end to the session when he stopped in the final sector.
Magnussen was the other driver to miss first practice, during which stand-in Pietro Fittipaldi ground to a halt, with the Dane’s day made worse by confirmation of an engine change that will lead to a five-place grid penalty for the Grand Prix.
Attention will now turn to the third and final practice session in Mexico City, which is scheduled to get under way at 1200 local time on Saturday. Visit the RACE HUB for more information.
Who’s going to score in the 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix? Pick your dream team before qualifying and take on the world to win huge prizes with the Official Formula 1 Fantasy game. Sign up, join leagues and manage your squad here.