Mexican GP FP1 Report: Lewis Hamilton Under Investigation as Penalty Threat Looms for Track Infringement

Published 11/05/2021, 2:36 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – Mexico Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 5, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during practice REUTERS/Henry Romero


The Mexican GP weekend has finally begun, starting the countdown to the last five races of the season. The F1 cars hit the tarmac at the Autodromo after two years; with tensions at an all-time high, the final timesheet of the session gave us the perfect peek into what the weekend will hold for us. Mercedes ended with the advantage, with Red Bull close behind.

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The temperature and the dust at the circuit continued to be problems for the drivers. As the teams made their way around the circuit, the dust and the temperatures made it hard for the drivers to find grip. As a result, the safety car was out in the early minutes of the session.

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Charles Leclerc was the first into the wall, spinning off rather slowly into the barriers at the Peraltada. As Leclerc made his way to Ferrari garage with a broken wing, Sergio Perez spun off into the walls at turn 16 as well.

However, as the dust cleared up, the cars soon began picking up pace.

Red Bull falls short at Mexican GP

For a while, home hero Sergio Perez was out of the session; it looked like he would have to stay out of FP1. However, the Red Bull mechanics worked their magic and the Mexican was soon back out on the track. Max Verstappen took his familiar spot at the top of the timesheets in the static session. However, in the end, it was Bottas who set the time.

Formula One F1 – Mexico Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 5, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during practice REUTERS/Andres Stapff

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas struggled for grip earlier in the session, causing Lewis to run straight on at Turn One. The incident will be under investigation after the session; but Hamilton simply reasoned, “Couldn’t slow down there.” Bottas too had a similar incident at Turn 1.

What remained interesting, however, was that the fastest times kept switching between Mercedes and Red Bull. Although Mercedes ended the session on top, FP1 only showed that this time around, it could be anyone’s game.

Midfield battle gets interesting

As Round 18 approaches, new engine penalties are confirmed. For now, Tsunoda, Stroll, and Perez will be getting new engine parts in Mexico. However, only Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll will take grid penalties.

Formula One F1 – Mexico Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 5, 2021 AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in action during practice REUTERS/Henry Romero

However, it was up to their teammates to show the cars’ pace. Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel had an incredible session in Mexico. In the early stint of the session, as rear wings flew all over the place, Pierre Gasly took a suitable spot at the top of the leaderboard, displacing Valtteri Bottas.

The AlphaTauris also showed incredible pace with Gasly finishing the session 5th and Tsunoda in 11th. Sebastian Vettel also found himself in the top 10, setting quick lap times in the Aston Martin.

The team that struggled the most this session was Alpine, who is currently holding on to P5 in the constructors’ battle. The team arrive in Mexico after a double DNF in America and struggled to find pace in the Autodromo.

Kimi Raikkonen pulled a Hamilton, making the similar mistake of not using the bollard while exiting Turn 1. His incident too, will be taken up by the stewards after the session.

Ferrari outperform McLaren rivals

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It was a relatively quiet session for the midfield leaders. The Prancing Horses looked stronger than their rivals, and their finishing positions only back Ferrari’s new upgrades as successes.

Formula One F1 – Mexico Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 5, 2021 Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in action during practice REUTERS/Henry Romero

McLaren was predictably slower than their rivals; owing to the fact that the circuit favors Ferrari and their engine upgrades have only been a miraculous boost. Going into the weekend, the battle for P3 on the board is going to be an interesting one.

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As the first session of the weekend comes to an end, Mercedes showed their temporary dominance on Red Bull home ground. However, this is only the first round around the Autodromo; the Mexican GP weekend may bring something unexpected.

Watch this story:5 F1 Crashes Which Stunned the World

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Shreya Sanjeev

634 articles

Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

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