Ricciardo sets blistering time for Mexico GP
DANIEL Ricciardo has helped set the pace for the Mexico Grand Prix, with Red Bull dominating the first and second practice sessions.
Ricciardo set the second-fastest time, behind teammate and last year's winner Max Verstappen.
The Australian was 0.483 behind Verstappen.
After enduring several engine issues with his Red Bull, which forced him to retire from the US Grand Prix this week, Ricciardo's practice is a positive sign.
The news wasn't as good for Verstappen, however, despite setting the fastest time in practice.
Everything was running smoothly for Red Bull - until it wasn't.
Verstappen's car shut down with a hydraulic problem late in the afternoon and his day ended early with him climbing out of the cockpit for a puzzled look at the engine.
It's a worrying development if old reliability problems are going to crop up again at a race the Red Bull drivers are confident they can win.
Verstappen posted Friday's fastest times despite the late engine failure.
His best lap in the high altitude of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was 1 minute, 16.720 seconds, with Ricciardo 0.153 seconds behind.
The problem came as Verstappen approached the turn at the end of the track's long straight. He avoided a crash by steering the car into the grassy runoff area and stopped short of the wall.
The Dutch driver won the Mexican Grand Prix last year and has called this week's race Red Bull's best chance to win over the final three races of the season.
Red Bull certainly distanced itself from Mercedes and Ferrari for a day. The two teams battling for the season driver and constructor championships were nowhere near the top pace.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who could secure the season championship if he finishes no lower than seventh, was fifth in the first practice and seventh in the second.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was fourth in the afternoon practice, 1.380 seconds behind Verstappen. Vettel started on the pole last year and must win Sunday if he wants to push the championship to the next race in Brazil.
Hamilton said the Mercedes team was "off" last week at the U.S. Grand Prix, where he finished third and teammate Valtteri Bottas was fifth. Hamilton had his own run off into the grass in the first turn.
Renault engines had an impressive run overall Friday. Outside of the Red Bull cars, Renault rivers Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg were third and fifth, respectively, in the afternoon.
1. Max Verstappen (NED/RBR) 1min 16.720sec
2. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/RBR) +0.153
3. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/REN) 1.233
4. Sebastian Vettel (GER/FER) 1.234
5. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/REN) 1.326
6. Brendon Hartley (NZL/STR) 1.341
7. Lewis Hamilton (ENG/MER) 1.380
8. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/FER) 1.413
9. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/MER) 1.420
10. Sergio Perez (MEX/RAC) 1.447
11. Esteban Ocon (FRA/RAC) 1.765
12. Romain Grosjean (FRA/HAA) 2.013
13. Charles Leclerc (MON/SAU) 2.304
14. Pierre Gasly (FRA/STR) 2.327
15. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/MCL) 2.376
16. Lance Stroll (CAN/WIL) 2.499
17. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/SAU) 2.602
18. Sergey Sirotkin (RUS/WIL) 2.615
19. Fernando Alonso (ESP/MCL) 2.823
20. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/HAA) 2.950