Image Credit REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Hamilton finished just 0.076 seconds behind teammate Valtteri Bottas in the one-hour racing at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, giving Mercedes a promising one-two finish.
The high-altitude track in Mexico City, at 2,285 metres above sea level, was supposed to favour Verstappen’s Red Bull gear.
VB leads the way in FP1. 🤙
A solid start to the weekend here in Mexico City. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/IKDjjf0QYl
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 5, 2021
However, the Dutchman finished 0.123 seconds slower than Bottas, providing Hamilton hope that he can keep his opponent from expanding his 12-point title lead with only five rounds remaining.
The seven-time world champion is under investigation by the stewards for failing to follow FIA race director Michael Masi’s instructions.
Hamilton went off at the first right-hander, but instead of running around the bollard at Turn 3, he rejoined the circuit at the next turn, which was improper.
The stewards will investigate the event before Friday’s final action, which begins at 3 p.m. local time.
After last season’s event was cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic, Formula One is back in Mexico City for the first time in two years.
Sergio Perez, the home favourite, receives the majority of the support.
However, the Red Bull driver was forced to sit out the first part of the session after losing control of his car on the left-hander Turn 16 and sliding backwards into the barriers.
After a 26-minute repair job, Perez rejoined the action to finish fourth, 0.269 secs off the pace.
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) November 5, 2021
In a similar accident to Perez, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also suffered rear wing damage. The Monegasque driver finished seventh in the race.
In other races, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished fifth, one place ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, with twice world winner Fernando Alonso seventh in his Alpine.
Lando Norris was just 15th for McLaren, over two seconds behind the runners, and George Russell was 17th of the 20 drivers.