- Very few races in the calendar have such buzzing Fridays as the Mexican Grand Prix. Not only are the grandstands way more crowded than usual, but also the VIPs seem to want to use every opportunity to take advantage of the event that has been voted as the best of the year for the past five seasons.

- That means that the drivers simply cannot walk in the paddock without being followed by a small crowd. That’s why Lewis Hamilton has a whole security team following him, rather than just his bodyguard - and the scooter, used with a lot of success to make sure he can find his way around the paddock quicker!

- Ferrari’s engineers gave an interesting lecture about the effects of the altitude in the engines and its aero implications this Friday. We learned, for example, that the normal aero package for the Hermanos Rodríguez track would be similar to the Silverstone one if Mexico City wasn’t so far above sea level – 2,250m up. But, being as it is, even with the Singapore wings, the cars produce even less downforce than they do in Monza.

- That helps to understand why all drivers were complaining so much about graining after practice. Even with Pirelli going one step harder on the compounds this year, the problem seems to be worse - and the fact that it has been raining every day in Mexico City at the end of the afternoon doesn’t help (and more rain is predicted for this evening). At the moment, it looks like nobody will want to start in the last places of the top 10 and have to deal with a very painful first stint with the softs.

- Off-track, the most awaited interview of the day was Cyril Abiteboul’s. Renault’s boss revealed that the brake bias system protested by Racing Point was being used for “many years” and wasn’t implemented in the car this season. That would surprise the team’s rivals, who were assuming it was something developed during this year.

- The Frenchman also went a step further and used the penalty to question the article by which Renault was “caught”. In a formula where systems like the brake-by-wire are legal, he wants F1 to “modernize” the wording on what “drivers must drive without assistance” actually means. A fair point, but also a very effective way to divert from the team’s issues and their need to convince the board that F1 is still a good platform for the company.

- Abiteboul also revealed that Renault just received the draft version of the new commercial contract with Formula 1. One could assume these negotiations would be more developed at this point, but it looks like there will still be a lot of turnarounds in the story and, speaking to people in the paddock, there are more and more who believe that the 2021 regulations won’t be ready in time.

- On-track, Sebastian Vettel managed to lead the way for Ferrari on Friday in Mexico, edging out Max Verstappen by one-tenth of a second in FP2. Vettel said after the session he thought it would be “very tight” between the top three teams in qualifying, but both Verstappen and the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were clear in their feeling that Ferrari was a long way clear in reality.

- Alexander Albon suffered the biggest shunt of the day after crashing out early in FP2. The accident was the result of a “careless mistake” according to the youngster, who said tomorrow’s FP3 run plan would need to be adjusted accordingly.

- On Albon’s future, Red Bull chief Christian Horner said it was “early days” to make a final decision on whether the Anglo-Thai driver would be continuing for next year alongside Max Verstappen. Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko previously said a decision would be taken after Mexico.

- Sergio Perez took a new control electronics and energy store on his power unit ahead of this weekend’s race. It marked his first change of the year on both components, meaning there is no penalty applied.

- The FIA confirmed the seal had been broken on the gearbox of both Toro Rosso cars, but was within the regulations, meaning there is again no penalty.

Additional reporting by Luke Smith.

 

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