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Mexican Grand Prix 2023

Why Verstappen must watch his mirrors in Mexico

Max Verstappen expressed positive surprise after the first two free practice sessions. After all, things went better than he expected. But he is wise not to count himself too rich just yet.

Verstappen Mexico
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen and Red Bull have dominated F1 this season, so it should be no surprise to see the Dutchman on top of the timesheets after the opening day of running at the Mexico City Grand Prix.

But in recent races, the chasing pack has moved closer - McLaren showing the most consistency in reaching the podium.

Before the start of the weekend, however, Lando Norris suggested that McLaren would be a shadow of the team that strung together podiums in the last few races.

His rankings on Friday contrast his warnings though and beg the question: was that false modesty?

If we look at the timesheets, Norris ended P2, but if we go a little deeper into the matter and look at the long runs across the field, the Briton's prospects look even brighter.

In the table below, we list the times during the long runs based on the fastest averages during the stints. The letter after the name indicates which tyre compound each driver drove on.

Longruns analysis FP2

Lap NOR (M) PER (H) VER (M) ALB (H) HAM (M)
1. 1:22.489 1:22.976 1:23.417 1:22.811 1:22.663
2. 1:22.511 1:23.050 1:23.729 1:23.197 1:22.749
3. 1:22.733 1:23.465 1:23.551 1:23.224 1:23.250
4. 1:22.750 1:23.215 1:23.408 1:23.171 1:24.097
5. 1:23.492 1:23.248 1:23.168 1:23.331 1:23.871
6. 1:22.707 1:25.511 1:26.704 1:23.694 1:27.044
7. 1:23.288 1:23.372 1:23.290 1:23.252 1:23.400
8. 1:24.287 1:23.119 1:23.220 1:24.251 1:24.309
9. 1:23.279 1:24.392 1:22.912
10. 1:23.524 1:22.883
11. 1:23.019
12. 1:23.339
Average 1:23.012 1:23.206 1:23.286 1:23.366 1:23.477

Verstappen vs. Norris

The table above shows that Norris was slightly faster over his long run on average, with the obvious outliers [traffic, for example] are not included.

But Verstappen started his stint on used tyres compared to Norris' new tyres, which should see the duo neck-and-neck when times are adjusted.

What about home hero Sergio Perez? He was strong on his Hard tyres, which seemed to run better for the Red Bull than the Mediums. For McLaren, this fact is seemingly switched, with Oscar Piastri's run failing to match his teammate Norris'.

With Verstappen not running the Hards, he cannot be compared to Perez. Is the Dutchman saving his for the race?

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

The honorable mention!

Alex Albon was the standout driver on the day having set the second-fastest time in FP1.

Though he failed to set a representative lap in the second session having thrown away his Soft tyre run, the long run for the Williams looks promising.

After double points for the Grove-based outfit in the United States, it looks like Albon is on for a top-10 battle again this weekend, especially with its slipperiness down the long start-finish straight.

F1 2023 Mexican Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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