George Russell sets practice pace at Mexican GP as Charles Leclerc crashes

George Russell set the fastest time in second practice at the Mexican Grand Prix – as Charles Leclerc crashed into his Ferrari.

Russell put his Mercedes in the lead as he was just one of five drivers to use the soft tyres, with the rest of the grid testing next year’s Pirelli compound.

The Briton finished ahead of Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon, with Lewis Hamilton, who didn’t use the fastest rubber, fourth.

Russell finished eight tenths faster than Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who set the fastest lap in the weekend’s opening round at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

Earlier in the day, Sainz led Leclerc in a Ferrari double, but the day turned sour for the Italian team when Leclerc retired from the second session.

Leclerc lost control of his Ferrari under braking from Turn 7 left, sliding backwards through the clearance zone and into the tire barrier.

The Monegasque was uninjured in the crash but his Ferrari team are facing extensive repair work overnight to ensure their car is ready for testing on Saturday lunchtime, with qualifying shortly to follow after.

“I’m fine, not the car,” Leclerc told the radio. The action was suspended as Leclerc’s injured Ferrari was pulled out of harm’s way and he returned to the garage dejectedly.

Earlier in the day, Hamilton finished just 0.142 seconds off Sainz’s pace.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, who earlier this week squandered his chances of winning a race this season, finished fifth.

Home favorite Sergio Perez finished third, one place ahead of teammate and two-time world champion Max Verstappen. The Red Bull duo recorded exactly the same time.

Hamilton revealed for the first time on Thursday that he is ready to extend his Formula 1 career beyond his 40th birthday.

Lewis Hamilton in action during training

Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in opening practice for the Mexican Grand Prix (Moises Castillo/AP)

The Mercedes driver, who turns 38 in January, said he would offer a further multi-year extension with the team once this season is over.

But Hamilton heads into Sunday’s round facing a race against time to ensure his record of winning at least one race in every year he has entered remains intact.

And the British driver finished behind Ferraris and Red Bulls to suggest he faces another tough challenge to fight for the top spot.

Verstappen has already sewn up his second title but he will claim the record for most wins in a single campaign if he triumphs on Sunday.

Home crowds, however, will be desperate to see the other Red Bull triumph with 350,000 spectators expected in the Mexican capital over the three days to cheer on their man Perez in the 20th round of 22.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *