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Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in action during practice. Image Credit: REUTERS

Mexico City: Mercedes posted the fastest laps in the first practice ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, a race that is expected to favor Red Bull and season championship leader Max Verstappen.

Valtteri Bottas was 0.076 seconds quicker than teammate Lewis Hamilton, who trails Verstappen by 12 points in the championship with five races left.

Verstappen and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez were third and fourth.

Dusty conditions

Perez had a rough start in dusty conditions in front of his home crowd at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. He spun into the wall just a few minutes after the session began and damaged his rear wing. The crash forced Perez into his garage for almost half of the 60-minute session for repairs.

Formula One returned to Mexico City this season after canceling the race in 2020 because of the pandemic. Verstappen won the race in 2017 and 2018. Hamilton won in 2019 and also clinched his 2017 and 2018 championships at the track.