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Formula 1

Bottas sets the early pace in Mexico as Perez crashes

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas has led a Mercedes 1-2 in the first practice session in Mexico City, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen third.

Bottas USA
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Valtteri Bottas has set the pace in the opening practice session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez ahead of Sunday's Mexico City Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver set a time of 1:18.341 on the Soft compound tyre with 20 minutes remaining in the session, less than a tenth clear of what Lewis Hamilton could manage in the second W12. Hamilton has since been summoned before race stewards for an alleged transgression during the session.

Both Mercedes drivers managed to eclipse what Max Verstappen could manage on the Soft compound tyre, with the Dutchman slotting into third place and just over a tenth down on Bottas' benchmark.

The first practice session took place in warm conditions, with track temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius. But the circuit proved treacherously slippery to start the weekend, due to a layer of dust covering the tarmac. As a result, there were plenty of early incidents and lap time deletions as drivers struggled for grip.

Two drivers to fall foul of the tricky conditions were Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull's Sergio Perez, who both spun off backwards at Turn 16 within seconds of each other after just 10 minutes of the session.

Leclerc spun off first, hitting the barrier backwards to bring out the yellow flags. He extricated himself and went straight into the pits, and was back out shortly after the team had repaired the rear-end damage.

Perez did the same, spinning off at slightly higher speed and destroying the left hand side of his rear wing. As a result, the Virtual Safety Car was deployed while the debris was picked up and the Mexican withdrew to the pits where he lost around 30 minutes of the session.

Result Free practice 1 - Mexican

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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Early on in the session, Mercedes opted to run the Soft tyres as Verstappen plugged away on the Hard compound. With the track conditions not optimal, there was initially little difference in lap time as Verstappen was able to match the Mercedes cars until the conditions began to clean up.

Following his Soft tyre effort, Verstappen swapped back to the Hard for the final runs while Mercedes persevered with the Softs.

With Bottas finishing at the front, ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen, fourth place went to Perez as the home town hero found pace on the Softs in the final minutes of the session after getting back out on track.

Encouragingly for Honda power, fifth place went to AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly. The French driver was half a second down on Verstappen, finishing just ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Alpine's Fernando Alonso

Charles Leclerc and Esteban Ocon followed in the other Ferrari and Alpine cars respectively, with the top 10 rounded out by Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel.

AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda finished in 11th place, with the Japanese rookie one of two drivers confirmed to be serving an engine change grid penalty this weekend.

Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen, who has also been summoned before the stewards along with Hamilton, finished in 12th place, ahead of Aston Martin's Lance Stroll. The Canadian will also serve an engine change grid penalty on Sunday.

McLaren pair Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were 14th and 15th respectively, with Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi in 16th.

Williams' George Russell was 17th, ahead of teammate Nicholas Latifi, while Haas were 19th and 20th with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin respectively.

F1 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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