Bottas goes fastest - Top three drivers split by 0.123sec for Mexican GP's opening practice

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• Valtteri Bottas posted the fastest time for the opening practice for the Mexican Grand Prix.

• He finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

• Home hero Sergio Perez had a mixed session, but was fourth fastest.

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Lewis Hamilton finished ahead of Max Verstappen in opening practice for the Mexican Grand Prix.

Hamilton ended the one-hour running at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez just 0.076 seconds behind teammate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes recorded an encouraging one-two finish.

The high-altitude venue in Mexico City, which sits a breathless 2 285m above sea level, had been expected to suit Verstappen's Red Bull machinery. But the Dutchman finished 0.123 seconds adrift of Bottas to provide Hamilton with the hope he can stop his rival from extending his 12-point title lead with just five rounds remaining.

However, the seven-time world champion faces a stewards' investigation for failing to FIA race director Michael Masi's notes.

Hamilton to the stewards

In the early minutes of the session, Hamilton ran off at the opening right-hander. But instead of going around the bollard at Turn 3, he incorrectly rejoined the circuit at the next bend. The stewards will delve into the incident ahead of Friday's concluding action.

Formula 1 is back in Mexico City for the first time in two years after last season's event was cancelled amid the coronavirus outbreak. And the majority of the support here is for home favourite Sergio Perez. But the Red Bull driver spent half the session on the sidelines after he lost control of his car through the left-hander Turn 16 and slid backwards into the barriers.

READ: F1 WRAP | 2021 Mexican Grand Prix - Valtteri Bottas tops opening practice

After a 26-minute repair job, Perez rejoined the action to finish fourth, 0.269 secs off the pace.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc also suffered rear wing damage when he endured a similar accident to Perez. The Monegasque driver ended the running with the eighth fastest time.

Elsewhere, Pierre Gasly finished fifth for AlphaTauri, one spot ahead of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz with double world champion Fernando Alonso seventh in his Alpine. British driver Lando Norris was only 15th for McLaren, the best part of two seconds back, with George Russell 17th of the 20 runners.

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