Russell tops second Mexico GP practice after Leclerc crash

Russell tops second Mexico GP practice after Leclerc crash

Charles Leclerc crashed out of the 90-minute Pirelli tire test topped by George Russell at the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Leclerc’s car spun off the track through Turn 8 and rear-ended the wall, with his left-rear corner suffering the worst of the damage.

The Monegasque was unhurt, blaming a lack of grip on the experimental tires, as well as the dusty track, for the mistake.

The time it took to collect his wrecked car and repair the barriers cost teams and Pirelli almost 20 minutes in the middle of the session.

By the time Leclerc found the barrier, Russell had already topped the session as one of five drivers granted 45 minutes of free practice during the tire test after handing their cars to rookie and reserve drivers in FP1.

Russell’s best time of 1m19.970s was 0.828s quicker than Yuki Tsunoda, who resumed the wheel from Liam Lawson, and 1.207s faster than Esteban Ocon, who was running last week’s power unit after engine problems emerged during Jack Doohan’s FP1 run.

Alex Albon took over from Logan Sargeant, but his soft-tire run was good enough only for 13th at 2.4s adrift.

Kevin Magnussen required an internal combustion engine change and was too late to rejoin the session in time to use his 45 minutes of free practice.

Pirelli required all drivers to undertake defined run programs on preset fuel levels and without making set-up changes to evaluate proposed compounds for 2023. The tire manufacturer said drivers were testing the softer compounds in the range after sampling harder rubber in Austin last week. Teams and drivers were blind to which compounds they were testing as part of the experiment.

Lewis Hamilton was the quickest driver to complete the session exclusively on the experimental tires, beating Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen to fourth.

The crashed Leclerc finished seventh in the order ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz, Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly.

Fernando Alonso was 11th ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Albon, and McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, whose car was spotted with its engine cover off partway through the session, having lost FP1 time to a brake problem.

Lance Stroll was 16th ahead of Haas duo Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen, Nicholas Latifi and Zhou Guanyu, who stopped on track in the stadium section with a hydraulics failure with less than two minutes to go, forcing the session to end early.

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