2015 Mexican Grand Prix Practice Review

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Lewis Hamilton wins the United States Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. This meant that Hamilton secured his third world championship which is a fantastic achievement and well deserved after a great performance this season.

Also McLaren, Toro Rosso and Force India managed to secure points from the United States Grand Prix which is much needed for all the teams concerned.

Heading into the race weekend, it has been announced that Force India has requested an advance in payment in order to meet payments with their suppliers and avoid a repeat of what happened this season; even though they have lodged an EU complaint recently.

There are also rumours of Toro Rosso completing an engine deal with Ferrari; even though there have been rumours that this may not go ahead.

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Max Verstappen tops the timesheets in FP1.

Max Verstappen tops the timesheets in FP1.

Practice 1 saw Max Verstappen tops the timesheet with a time of 1.25.990 followed closely by Daniil Kvyat with a gap of 0.305 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen was in third with a gap of 0.305 seconds behind, Sebastian Vettel was in fourth 0.896 seconds behind and Daniel Ricciardo was in fifth place 1.195 seconds behind Verstappen.

Nico Rosberg was in sixth 1.206 seconds behind, Valtteri Bottas was in seventh 1.313 seconds behind, Carlos Sainz Jr was eighth with a gap of 1.420 seconds behind, Sergio Perez was ninth 1.591 seconds behind and Felipe Massa was in tenth 1.705 seconds behind Verstappen.

Drivers started the FP1 session on the intermediates after overnight rain in Mexico City left the circuit damp in places. Conditions on the track were tricky due to the combination of a wet track and freshly laid asphalt, with Sebastian Vettel reporting it was “ridiculously slippery”.

During FP1, Nico Rosberg had his session interrupted when his rear brakes caught fire after running wide at Turn 12. As Rosberg returned to the track flames were licking from his rear wheels; presenting a dramatic show for the fans sat in the old baseball stadium at the end of the lap. He immediately returned to the pits where he remained for 25 minutes while Mercedes assessed the damage and made changes to allow for more cooling.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP2.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP2 and FP3.

Practice 2 saw Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.21.531 followed closely by Kvyat with a gap of 0.245 seconds behind, Ricciardo was in third with a gap of 0.337 seconds behind, Hamilton was in fourth 0.430 seconds behind and Vettel was in fifth place 0.453 seconds behind Rosberg.

Raikkonen was in sixth 0.868 seconds behind, Bottas was in seventh 1.190 seconds behind, Alonso was eighth with a gap of 1.462 seconds behind, Button was ninth 1.578 seconds behind and Felipe Massa was in tenth 1.758 seconds behind Rosberg.

As per the first session, the opening half-hour was dominated by a number of spins and incidents.After leading the way in first practice (controversially so) Max Verstappen’s second practice was over inside five minutes after sliding into a barrier out of the exit of Turn 16, one of the slower sections of the track.

This then brought out the red flags while his Toro Rosso was recovered and started a series of spins and slides for a number of drivers on the very slippery asphalt.

With the poor weather conditions in recent months in Mexico City delayed the laying of the top layer of the circuit and with it still being so new and with oils forcing their way to the surface, it resulted in plenty of action on the track.

After a seven-minute delay under the red flags, Valtteri Bottas was the next to suffer as he lost his Williams under braking at high speed into Turn 1, with Bottas fortunate enough to only escape with losing his front wing after clipping a barrier.

During FP2, Turn 1 proved to be particularly troublesome with Carlos Sainz Jr, home hero Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado all going off track at that point. Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel only just held onto his Ferrari on entry to the pitlane at one stage, while Hamilton spun out of the sharp-left Turn 4, resulting in him facing the wrong way.

With 28 minutes remaining in the session, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean became the second retiree of the session and pulled his Lotus off on to the grass at Turn 10 due to a clutch problem. This then resulted in a second red-flag period as he helped the marshals push his car behind a barrier.

Practice 3 saw Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.21.083 followed closely by Hamilton with a gap of 0.014 seconds behind, Ricciardo was in third with a gap of 0.118 seconds behind, Vettel was in fourth 0.211 seconds behind and Kvyat was in fifth place 0.477 seconds behind Rosberg.

Perez was in sixth 0.520 seconds behind, Bottas was in seventh 0.689 seconds behind, Sainz Jr was eighth with a gap of 0.692 seconds behind, Massa was ninth 0.862 seconds behind and Nico Hulkenberg was in tenth 0.927 seconds behind Rosberg.

During FP3, we saw Daniil Kvyat having had a spin at Turn 6. We also saw Kimi Raikkonen had a disappointing session and peeled off the circuit with smoke pouring from the rear of his Ferrari having managed just four laps and Jenson Button struggling once again as he reported vibrations from the engine at low revs and spent most of the session in the garage.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race.

But Ricciardo and Vettel are both looking strong this weekend and could snatch pole from them. However, Sainz Jr, Hulkenberg, Perez and Bottas also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Toro Rosso or Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

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