Max Verstappen led the way in opening practice for the Mexican Grand Prix as Red Bull set the early pace.
Verstappen said on Thursday that he was out to stop Lewis Hamilton from winning his fifth world championship in style, and the Dutchman ended the opening running at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez half-a-second clear of anybody else.
Daniel Ricciardo finished second with Hamilton only fifth, and Sebastian Vettel – who must win on Sunday to stand any chance of stopping his rival from taking the title – a distant seventh.
The Mexico City circuit sits 2,200 metres above sea level and acts as an equaliser in engine performance.
Therefore, the Renault in the back of Verstappen’s Red Bull, usually inferior to the might of Mercedes and Ferrari, was expected to be closer this weekend.
And the early signs were indeed promising for Verstappen, and his Red Bull team, with the 21-year-old 1.2 seconds faster than Carlos Sainz, a surprising third for Renault.
His teammate Nico Hulkenberg finished fourth.
Hamilton needs to finish only seventh on Sunday to be sure of the championship, but the Briton will want to seal the title by winning the race here.
Yet, on the evidence of first practice, there is plenty of work for Hamilton and his Mercedes team to do.
Away from the title race, a lot has been made of where Hamilton sits in the 'GOAT' rankings, and whether he's better than the likes of Michael Schumacher.
Jacques Villeneuve certainly thinks so, saying Hamilton is 'miles better', but whilst explaining his reasonings, Martin Brundle also dropped the truth about the Brit.
When asked about his popularity within the sport, Brundle hit the nail on the head with his answer, saying that most people are more appreciated once they've retired or died.
Watch the video below.
Some big claims made by Villeneuve, but also some serious truth spoken by Brundle.
All we do know for now is that Hamilton is on the brink of a fifth world title, and that is something that simply cannot be ignored.
*Odds subject to change, 18+, www.begambleaware.org
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