Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen dominated both free practice sessions in Mexico, going fastest of everyone on both the ultrasoft and hypersoft tyres, with a strong showing from Renault in both sessions as well.
With the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez not used extensively during the year, there was a ‘green’ and slippery surface in the morning with plenty of track evolution, which influenced the action, and some graining seen on the hypersoft. While the teams run a reasonably high downforce set-up, effectively this provides low downforce due to the thin air at high altitude in Mexico. Track temperatures were warm today, peaking at nearly 50 degrees centigrade in FP2, with cooling often being an issue in the race as well.
Although the hypersofts provide a certain pace advantage, degradation on them so far has been high, which will influence tomorrow’s qualifying strategy if it continues and add another element of unpredictability to the race.
Mario Isola: “It was quite a tricky day to interpret, although in many ways a bit similar to what we saw in Mexico last year. Today, there was high degradation on the hypersoft in free practice, which is of course two steps softer than the softest compound we brought to Mexico in 2017 (ultrasoft). If this continues throughout the weekend, it will influence qualifying strategy, with some teams perhaps choosing to prioritise durability over outright pace, and a few different strategies presenting themselves for the race. A lot more data analysis is needed tonight and FP3 to fully understand the situation. There’s a chance of rain on Saturday night, which would obviously ‘reset’ the track and wash away the rubber that’s been deposited so far. In any case, it already promises to be a great fight over the rest of the weekend.”