Verstappen overtakes Albon in first practice for the Mexican Grand Prix

Max Verstappen took the lead in practice for the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix, beating Williams’ Alex Albon to take pole position.

In dusty conditions at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Verstappen posted a time of 1:19.718 on Soft C5 Pirelli tires to lead the session which featured five rookie drivers to fulfill the mandatory young driver sessions.

Pirelli also tested the tires during the session, with the first series of laps completed on the test tires within the first ten minutes, before Sergio Perez jumped to the top of the times on the intermediate group.

Verstappen quickly regained his lead, continuing his advantage through the red-marked soft tires as Albon split the two Red Bull cars.

Carlos Sainz suffered a loss of power steering due to a hydraulic issue in the opening minutes but was able to return to the track, while Lewis Hamilton finished 11th for Mercedes.

The opening minutes of the session were filled with a group of drivers complaining about the drama with their cars, as a piece of Daniel Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri car flew into the pits, but there was no need for a virtual safety car.

After running on the race complexes, Perez was the session leader from Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Ricciardo and Albon – although Verstappen ran a 1:20.245 on the averages to edge out Perez by 1.351 seconds and Leclerc by almost two seconds.

Albon quickly split the Red Bulls, sitting just 0.004 seconds off Verstappen’s time as the session headed towards a mid-session lull and the soft tire rollout.

Norris clocked a time of 1:20.237 seconds to edge Verstappen by 0.008 seconds before the triple world champion recorded a time of 1:19.718 that would see him lead the session on the push lap on C5 rubber.

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Perez managed for a time to secure second place for the Red Bull, almost 0.297 seconds behind his teammate before Albon went on his set of soft tires to set a 1:19.823 to drop 0.095 seconds behind the pacer.

Norris finished fourth, ahead of Leclerc, Oscar Piastri and Sainz, who returned to the track after losing hydraulics.

The top ten was rounded out by Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll – with Hamilton the first driver, one second off Verstappen in 11th.

Beginner drivers

Nico Hulkenberg, Zhou Guanyu, Logan Sargent and Fernando Alonso followed Hamilton with Oliver Biermann – replacing Kevin Magnussen – the best-placed rookie driver.

He narrowly edged out AlphaTauri’s Isak Hadjar (Yuki Tsunoda), with Jacques Doohan (Alpine, Pierre Gasly), Frederic Vestey (Mercedes, George Russell), and Theo Bourchier (Alfa Romeo, Valtteri Bottas) rounding out the classification.

Porchier suffered a brake wiring problem, which limited his laps instead of Boyas.

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