The third to last round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City as teams prepared for the Mexican Grand Prix Sunday.
Two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 4.304-kilometer (2.674-mile), 17-turn circuit were run under sunny and comfortable conditions, with Antonio Giovinazzi joining Haas F1 Team’s regular driver lineup of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
Giovinazzi, the third driver for Scuderia Ferrari, took the wheel of the Haas VF-17 in FP1 for the fifth time this season. The 23-year-old from Martina Franca, Italy, drove in place of Grosjean, who relinquished his seat for Giovinazzi to gain some additional Formula One experience.
Giovinazzi ran a total of 26 laps, the best being a 1:21.269 on his 19th lap that put him 15th overall. Giovinazzi ran 18 laps on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire before switching to the Red supersoft tire for the remainder of the session.
Giovinazzi’s car was outfitted with Haas F1 Team’s previous generation aero package to perform a better comparison test with the new aero package the team debuted in last weekend’s United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The updated aero package includes more intricate bargeboards designed to channel dirty air from the wake of the front tires away from the lower sidepod area.
Magnussen’s Haas VF-17 was equipped with the new aero package, but he was only able to run 16 laps in FP1 as a small water leak impacted his session. His quick time of 1:20.644 came on his final lap and it placed him 13th among the 20 drivers. Magnussen ran exclusively on supersofts in FP1.
Leading the way in FP1 was Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, whose fast lap of 1:17.824 was .466 of a second better than the next quickest driver, teammate Lewis Hamilton. It also set a new benchmark for Formula One at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with the lap surpassing the previous track record of 1:18.704 set by Hamilton in the final round of qualifying for last year’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Grosjean returned to his Haas VF-17 in FP2, but it was short-lived. As he powered through the final corner at Perlatada on only his second timed lap, the rear end of his car stepped out and sent him into a spin. Grosjean did a masterful job of keeping it off the wall, and he was able to return to the track intent on bringing his car back to the garage. But on his way to the pits to change his flat-spotted tires, the left-rear tire lost several pieces, damaging the floor and rear wing. This made for a lengthy repair and Grosjean was unable to return to the track.
Magnussen, meanwhile, shaved .326 of a second off his FP1 time with a 1:20.318 on his 14th lap while utilizing the ultrasoft tire. He ended the session as the 17th fastest driver with 35 laps completed. The first nine of those laps were run on supersofts with a 21-lap stint on ultrasofts before transitioning back to the supersofts in the waning minutes.
Atop FP2 was Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. His quick time of 1:17.801 was .131 of a second faster than next best Hamilton and usurped Bottas’ fast lap from FP1 by .023 of a second to set a new track record.
Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 80 laps – 51 by Magnussen, 26 by Giovinazzi and three by Grosjean.