Ricciardo tops second practice in Mexico


October 28, 2017


Red Bull put Lewis Hamilton on notice: He will have work to do to grab another victory in Mexico.

Daniel Ricciardo put Red Bull on top of the second practice at the Mexican Grand Prix yesterday, edging defending race champion and season championship leader Hamilton by 0.131 seconds. Ricciardo's Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen was third.

Ricciardo has one victory and nine podium finishes this season. He had been on a strong run of three consecutive top-three finishes until that streak was broken with engine failure last week at the US Grand Prix.

"I think these last three races will be pretty close between the top three teams," Ricciardo said.

Verstappen thought he had a third-place finish in Texas before he was penalised for an improper last-lap pass and was taken off the podium. Those two will look to challenge Hamilton for pole position today.

Ricciardo's fastest lap Friday was 1 minute, 17.801 seconds, a track record at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Hamilton is chasing a career fourth season championship and could get it tomorrow by finishing no worse than fifth place. He has a 66-point lead over the Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel with three races left.

Vettel had an adventurous day, finishing fifth and fourth in the two practice sessions. His morning session included a drive into the grass at the end of the track's long straight into the first turn. In the second, his car's fire extinguisher leaked near the seat of his pants, forcing him into the garage for a suit change.

"Wasn't that pleasant for me," Vettel said. "It got very cold."

The portion of the track where Vettel ran into the grass has new curbs designed to force cars that run off to take a slow, winding return. Force India's Esteban Ocon said this week the curbs are so severe they could damage a chassis.

The design change came after two controversial decisions last year that helped propel Hamilton to a win and denied Verstappen a podium spot.

Hamilton flew into the grass at the start of the 2016 race and he rejoined the track in front of teammate Nico Rosberg. Race stewards determined Hamilton had a slight edge in position when he went into the grass, and therefore his return didn't change the drivers' position.

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