Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo headed Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in a closely contested second practice at the Mexican Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was 0.131 seconds quicker than Hamilton, who had a spin early in the session, with Max Verstappen’s Red Bull ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel was only 0.032secs off Hamilton as the Ferrari driver clings to his fading title hopes.
Hamilton needs only to finish fifth on Sunday to clinch a fourth championship.
If Vettel is second in the race, Hamilton needs only ninth to clinch the championship. If the German finishes anywhere else, Hamilton takes the crown regardless.
Hamilton shows form after ‘big spin’
The 32-year-old Briton had appeared to be struggling, his spin early in the second session following his being nearly 0.5secs slower than Bottas in the first.
But he ended the session 0.3secs quicker than Bottas and with an impressively quick race-simulation run in the second part of the session.
Hamilton and Ricciardo were evenly matched on long-run pace when comparing their equivalent laps – but the Australian stopped his after just four circuits while Hamilton went on to do a huge 27-lap run.
Vettel appeared about half a second slower than the Mercedes and Ferrari but his pace may have been affected by the fact that his session was disrupted by a technical issue, and he said he was not happy with the balance of the car.
However, Red Bull do not have the extra power mode in qualifying trim so will likely have to fight past the Mercedes and Ferraris if they are to compete for the victory.
“The car did not feel great this morning,” said Hamilton. “I made some good changes and then had that big spin and destroyed that first set of tyres, but fortunately recovered with not such a bad couple of laps on the ultra-soft and then I did a very long run – 27 laps.
“I think it is going to be close. I was expecting us potentially to be worse off here but it is looking quite good.”