Red Bull 1-2 in 1st practice at Mexican Grand Prix

ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 27, 2018 06:32 AM
Red Bull 1-2 in 1st practice at Mexican Grand Prix
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, of the Netherlands, sits in his car during the first training session of the Formula One Mexico Grand Prix auto race at the Hermanos Rodriguez racetrack in Mexico City, Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

By Jim Vertuno, Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Everything was running perfect for Red Bull and Max Verstappen.

Until it wasn't.

Verstappen and Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo were dominating Friday's practice sessions at the Mexican Grand Prix, posting laps ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari. Then Verstappen's car shut down with a hydraulic problem late in the afternoon and his day ended early with him climbing out of the cockpit for a puzzled look at the engine.

It's a worrying development if old reliability problems are going to crop up again at a race the Red Bull drivers are confident they can win. Ricciardo retired early from the U.S. Grand Prix last week with engine problems as Verstappen took second.

Verstappen posted Friday's fastest times despite the late engine failure. His best lap in the high altitude of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was 1 minute, 16.720 seconds, with Ricciardo 0.153 seconds behind.

The problem came as Verstappen approached the turn at the end of the track's long straight. He avoided a crash by steering the car into the grassy runoff area and stopped short of the wall.

The Dutch driver won the Mexican Grand Prix last year and has called this week's race Red Bull's best chance to win over the final three races of the season.

Red Bull certainly distanced itself from Mercedes and Ferrari for a day. The two teams battling for the season driver and constructor championships were nowhere near the top pace.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who could secure the season championship if he finishes no lower than seventh, was fifth in the first practice and seventh in the second.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was fourth in the afternoon practice, 1.380 seconds behind Verstappen. Vettel started on the pole last year and must win Sunday if he wants to push the championship to the next race in Brazil.

Hamilton said the Mercedes team was "off" last week at the U.S. Grand Prix, where he finished third and teammate Valtteri Bottas was fifth. Hamilton had his own run off into the grass in the first turn.

Renault engines had an impressive run overall Friday. Outside of the Red Bull cars, Renault rivers Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg were third and fifth, respectively, in the afternoon.

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