Free Practice 2
F1 2021
Round 18

A Strong Start In Mexico For Both Honda-Powered Teams

mx Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

It was a strong start to the Mexico City Grand Prix weekend for both Honda-powered teams, ending Friday’s running with all four cars in the top eight positions.

A Strong Start In Mexico For Both Honda-Powered Teams

Ahead of the start of FP1 it was confirmed Yuki would take a grid penalty for exceeding power unit components, due to a planned PU change, meaning his focus will be more on race pace during practice. But the rookie still got off to an encouraging start, ending the first session just outside the top ten on a track that was low on grip in the early stages of Formula 1’s first visit for two years.

His team-mate Pierre was fifth after the first hour of track time, directly behind Max and Sergio in third and fourth respectively. Sergio recovered well after a spin early on that saw him damage his rear wing, getting back out for the second half of FP1 as both Scuderia AlphaTauri and Red Bull Racing hit the ground running.

Max improved further to top the times in FP2 by over 0.4s, with Sergio once again ending the session fourth fastest. After another competitive run for Pierre in sixth, there was also more progress for Yuki who was just 0.2s further back in eighth position.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
It’s nice to be back in Mexico for the first time since 2019, with the added enjoyment of seeing the fans cheering all the time for Checo. With such a great atmosphere, it was positive that all four cars, from Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri got through their programmes in both sessions with no major problems, while showing good pace. As this circuit is at high altitude above sea level, it requires different PU settings to usual, so we will now analyse the data gathered over the two hours of track time to optimise everything for tomorrow across both teams.  We chose to fit a new PU to Yuki’s car based on considerations relating to performance and reliability for the rest of season. He therefore starts from the back on Sunday, but looking at his pace in free practice, we can expect him to  move up the order in the race.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
It was quite a good day for us as a Team, of course we are always trying to improve and make the car better but overall, it’s looking pretty good. The track was very dirty in FP1 which made it quite difficult for us but FP2 was much better. It’s always difficult to know how we are going to perform in qualifying after Friday practice, and there are quite a few things to look at to improve performance. It’s been a positive start and we have a good feeling as a Team heading into the weekend.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
I think we didn’t lose that much progress today, despite the shunt in FP1. It was a shame we damaged the car and we gave a little bit of extra work to the boys in the garage but other than that incident it was a positive day. I am feeling more comfortable on the long runs than over one lap, so I think there is still the potential to improve the car on the short runs. I have one more session to work on them and my target is to be on that front row tomorrow. The margins are going to be very close in qualifying to the Mercedes but hopefully we can lock out that front row. I don’t think it has been a representative day in terms of predicting qualifying, tomorrow everything will be even closer, and it will be interesting to see how we all line up. The fans have been incredible already, it is great to look around and have so much support here, everyone is being so enthusiastic and is pushing me to go faster. Every time I stop the car, I can hear the crowd and it’s only Friday!

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I must say, I’m very happy with today. We’ve finished both sessions in the top six and there are lot of positives with the car so far, I think we can even find some more performance tomorrow. It’s really slippery out there, which doesn’t feel great, but we’re still very competitive, so I’m really pleased. Looking to the race, the tyres felt pretty good as well. We know that usually here in Mexico the track isn’t so tough on the Hards, especially compared to last time out in Austin, but we’re happy with the long-running we’ve done so far, which we now need to analyse ahead of Sunday.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I’m quite happy with today, I think the balance of the car has been good and we’ve shown strong pace straight from FP1. We’ve obviously got the penalty, which means that our approach to Qualifying will be slightly different, but we’ve still collected a lot of important data for the engineers to analyse tonight. Mainly my focus is on the race, more so than the one lap pace for Qualifying, so I’ve done a lot of long-running today and I feel comfortable in the car so far.

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