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Mexican GP, Practice Two: Max Verstappen on top, but breaks down in unpredictable session

Sky Sports | Updated: 2018-10-27 06:00:51

However, more significantly, Renault were the closest challengers while Red Bull finished more than a second ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari in both Friday sessions, and their advantage is greater than any team has had in practice all season.

"It's blistering pace," said Sky F1's Paul Di Resta. "It's back to what it was like in 2012 and 2013, the Red Bull. It's lightyears in front around here."

The top three were all powered by Renault engines; a rarity that endorses the belief that the thin air of the high-altitude Mexico City circuit favours mechanical grip and downforce rather than outright power.

Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Ferrari, though Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas could only manage seventh, eighth and ninth in a timesheet that nobody could have predicted before P2.

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Behind the Red Bulls it was certainly competitive, with only two tenths of a second splitting Sainz in third place and 10th.

Nico Hulkenberg was another driver to impress, within a tenth of his Renault team-mate in fifth, while Brendon Hartley finished ahead of two Mercedes and a Ferrari by notching the sixth fastest time for Toro Rosso.

Here's what you can look forward to this weekend on Sky Sports F1 ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix. Tune in from 3:45pm on Saturday and 5:30pm on Sunday.

Where has Mercedes and Ferrari's pace gone?
Their gap to Red Bull could have perhaps been put down to different programmes and upgrade testing in Practice One, but there was no hiding for Mercedes and Ferrari later in the day.

F1's leading two teams, with F1's leading engines, were quite simply blown away by Red Bull.

"This is astonishing," remarked Sky F1's Ted Kravitz from the pit-lane.

"Just what is going on? The word from Mercedes is that it is something to do with the Renault engines."

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Practice Two results in full

But while Red Bull's superiority could certainly have a lot to do with their power deficit being wiped out, neither the Mercedes or the Ferrari looked comfortable through the corners with both cars sliding and struggling for grip.

"That car isn't connected to the track at all," said Di Resta as Vettel attempted a flying lap in his Ferrari. "He's fighting the rear end."

Hamilton, meanwhile, who can claim a fifth championship this weekend, told his team: "Something's not right with the car."

It wasn't just the hypersofts that Red Bull flourished on, either, as Verstappen, who started the session on ultrasofts, led the Mercedes and the Ferraris by more than half a second before even following them onto the weekend's fastest tyre.

"What can Mercedes and Ferrari do tonight, other than as much simulation work as they possibly can?" pondered Sky F1's David Croft.

On this evidence, their best hope may just be more reliability issues for Red Bull and Renault.

Renault power, but McLaren suffer
Considering Renault power occupied four of the top five positions in P2, McLaren would surely have expected to fare a little better than usual in Mexico.

In Practice Two, however, the prestigious Woking team could only finish 15th and 19th, with Stoffel Vandoorne ahead of Fernando Alonso.

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Their focus for qualifying would perhaps be better placed on getting out of Q1, though another competitive scrap for qualifying's final shootout looks likely for the rest of the midfield.

Force India were strong in 10th and 11th, led by home favourite Sergio Perez, while Haas also weren't too far behind.

Pierre Gasly will hope for an improvement in his Toro Rosso, which has an older-spec Honda engine fitted this weekend, after finishing the session a second behind team-mate Hartley.

Kevin Magnussen will similarly want a lot more on Saturday, after propping up the timesheets.

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