Lewis Hamilton fifth in opening practice for Mexican GP as Ferrari duo set pace

Lewis Hamilton finished just 0.142 seconds off the pace in opening practice for the Mexican Grand Prix – as Carlos Sainz led Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari one-two.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, who earlier this week wrote off his chances of winning a race this season, finished fifth.

Home favourite Sergio Perez was third, one spot ahead of his team-mate and two-time world champion Max Verstappen. The Red Bull duo recorded exactly the same time.

The one-hour session in the dizzying Mexico City altitude was suspended on two occasions. First, when Pietro Fittipaldi parked his Haas with mechanical troubles at Turn 3 of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. And then in the concluding moments when Liam Lawson’s brakes caught on fire.

Hamilton revealed for the first time on Thursday that he is ready to extend his Formula One career beyond his 40th birthday.

The Mercedes driver, who turns 38 in January, said he will thrash out a new multi-year extension with Mercedes once this season concludes.

Hamilton heads into Sunday’s round facing a race against time to ensure his record of winning at least one race in each year he has competed remains intact.

And the British driver finished behind both Ferraris and Red Bulls in the opening running of the weekend to suggest he faces another tall order to challenge for top spot.

Verstappen has already sewn up his second title but he will take the record of most victories in a single campaign if he triumphs on Sunday.

The home crowd, however, will be desperate to see the other Red Bull triumph with 350,000 spectators anticipated in Mexico’s capital over the three days to cheer on their man Perez at the 20th round of 22.

Behind the top five, Fernando Alonso finished sixth for Alpine with Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas seventh. Nyck de Vries stood in for George Russell with Mercedes and finished 18th of 20.

The second session starts at 4pm local time (10pm UK).