Max Verstappen said he is expecting a very competitive battle for pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session at the Mexican Grand Prix after emerging on top of both practice sessions on Friday.
The newly-crowned three-time world champion wound up narrowly ahead of nearest rival and friend Lando Norris of McLaren by 0.119 seconds after FP2.
“It’s going to be incredibly competitive over one lap,” he said. “But the race is a different story… There are always a few things to improve, but overall I think it is a positive start for the weekend and probably better than I expected.
“So that’s always good. The track is very slippery, like it always is here, and in the long run, the tyres are very difficult to manage as well so I think there are a lot of things that we can work on.”
The 26-year-old Dutchman wrapped up his third title in Qatar earlier this month and has won 15 of the 18 races so far this season. He completed 50 career victories last Sunday at the United States Grand Prix.
In deteriorating conditions in front of a boisterous and partisan crowd, rooting for his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, Verstappen stayed ahead of Norris with a determined performance after beating Williams’ Alex Albon by 0.095 in FP1.
Charles Leclerc was third for Ferrari, ahead of a revived Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo, Perez, Daniel Ricciardo of Alpha Tauri and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes who was seventh.
Esteban Ocon was eighth for Alpine ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and George Russell in the second Mercedes, but with the top ten separated by only half a second there were few clear signs of performance and potential.