SPORTS


Verstappen tops first Mexico practice

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Baku, October 31, AZERTAC

Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen topped the timesheets during first free practice for the Mexican Grand Prix, albeit with a contentious lap, ahead of Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat and Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen, according to gpupdate.

Friday morning's session at the revised Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez began on a largely wet track surface, following overnight rain.

Although it was soon dry enough for slick tyres, conditions remained challenging, with numerous drivers complaining of poor grip.

Verstappen worked his way down to a 1:25.990 on the Medium rubber, but cut a section of the track through the Esses after running wide.

With no action taken, he remained at the head of the field, just over three tenths of a second up on Kvyat and Räikkönen, who posted identical times.

Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo followed in the other Ferrari and Red Bull machines, a second adrift of the time posted by pace-setter Verstappen.

Nico Rosberg was the quickest of the Mercedes drivers in sixth, despite a dramatic incident in which his rear brakes caught fire on the approach to Turn 12.

Rosberg immediately brought his car back to the pits, where mechanics quickly acted to quell the flames, and was able to head back out in the closing stages.

Valtteri Bottas, the first driver to switch to slicks, ended the session seventh, in front of Carlos Sainz Jr., home favourite Sergio Pérez and Williams team-mate Felipe Massa.

Lewis Hamilton, crowned World Champion for a third time at the United States Grand Prix, made a low-key start to the weekend in 11th, 1.7 seconds off the pace.

Sauber and Lotus filled the next four places, Marcus Ericsson edging out Pastor Maldonado, and Felipe Nasr – who survived a spin at the final corner – pipping Jolyon Palmer.

Palmer will hand the car back to Romain Grosjean for FP2.

Nico Hulkenberg lost track time early on with a technical issue, leaving him 16th, ahead of Fernando Alonso, who was forced back onto Intermediates after cutting his Medium rubber.

Manor pair Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens sandwiched the other McLaren-Honda of Jenson Button, the latter missing the final half an hour as mechanics started an engine change for FP2.

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