Sergio Perez sparked hopes of a Red Bull resurgence as he went fastest in second practice at the Circuit of The Americas, but team mate Max Verstappen failed to set a flying lap having got caught up in traffic. That left McLaren’s Lando Norris second and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton third fastest.
Temperatures and tempers were high in FP2, as was proven when Verstappen and Hamilton ran side-by-side from the final corner through to Turn 1 with 10 minutes on the clock. The Red Bull driver branded his rival a “stupid idiot” and offered him a choice gesture as the Mercedes sped away. That wasn’t Verstappen’s only flashpoint as he expressed his frustration with his race engineer having been caught in traffic at the start of the mid-session short runs. Audibly fed up, he retreated to the pits and skipped to long runs instead, which proved to be on par with Mercedes. While Verstappen finished eighth in FP2, it was team mate Perez who set the benchmark of 1m34.946s on softs having also led on mediums early on.The Mexican eventually finished 0.257s ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris – who showed competitive medium-tyred pace too – as Hamilton took third, 0.364s off the pace. Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas was 0.050s behind in P4 having topped FP1.
That left Daniel Ricciardo, who began the session on softs and improved using the same tyre for his flying runs, fifth overall for McLaren – and a tenth faster than Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in P6.
Verstappen, eighth and 0.878s off the pace, was sandwiched by the Ferraris with Charles Leclerc seventh and Carlos Sainz ninth – while Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the top 10 for Alfa Romeo.Pierre Gasly finished 12th and was bookended by Alpines with Esteban Ocon 11th and Fernando Alonso 13th. The Spaniard spun off at Turn 19 late in the session but rescued his Alpine from the gravel to finish the session in the pits.
Kimi Raikkonen, winner of a sensational 2018 United States Grand Prix here, finished 14th for Alfa Romeo ahead of his former team mate, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who was in P15 having set his fastest effort on mediums – much like Verstappen.