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Vettel fastest in second practice at Mexican GP

The Briton could clinch a sixth world title this weekend.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel finished fastest in the second practice session for Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, who could close out his sixth world championship here, was quickest in the opening running, but had to settle for only fifth later in the day.

The Mercedes driver finished the best part of a second down on Vettel after his Ferrari team cemented their status as pre-race favourites.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was second, 0.115 seconds adrift of Vettel, with Charles Leclerc third in the other Ferrari.

The Monegasque, who spun in the closing stages, was almost half-a-second slower than Vettel.

Valtteri Bottas, the only man who can now stop team-mate Hamilton from winning the championship, was fourth, sixth tenths off the pace.

Hamilton will secure the title with three rounds remaining if he outscores Bottas by 14 points.

Lewis Hamilton could win the F1 title this weekend
Lewis Hamilton could win the F1 title this weekend (Marco Ugarte/AP)

But on the evidence of the second running here, his inevitable coronation might have to wait until next week in Austin.

Hamilton was fastest on Friday morning, but it appears he will have his work cut out to match the Ferraris and Red Bulls for the remainder of the weekend.

Mercedes have struggled at the high-altitude venue in recent seasons, and Hamilton finished an eye-watering 0.963 sec behind Vettel. Indeed, the Briton was just two tenths faster than the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat in seventh.

Alex Albon has impressed for Red Bull following his mid-season promotion from their junior team Toro Rosso. He arrived in Mexico City with more points than Verstappen in their five races as team-mates. Albon also finished a career-best fourth at the last round in Japan.

But the London-born Thai made the first mistake of his Red Bull career as he crashed out of the second session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Albon lost control of his car through the right-handed Turn 7, slamming into the barriers.  The 23-year-old walked away from the accident, but played no further part in the afternoon running following extensive damage sustained to the right-hand side of his Red Bull. The running was suspended for more than 10 minutes as Albon's wounded machine was recovered.

British teenager Lando Norris ended the day in 10th for McLaren, two places and three tenths behind his team-mate Carlos Sainz.

The struggling Williams team have brought a revised front wing to Mexico, but British novice George Russell, and team-mate Robert Kubica were 18th and 19th in the order, with only Albon, who did not post a competitive time, behind them.

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Lewis Hamilton pictured on October 13, 2019
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CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States25312379
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Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events

· The women's heptathlon continues with the long jump, javelin and 800m, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson now out of contention following an injury (1.10am-1.40pm)
· Andrew Pozzi pursues his dream of an Olympic medal in the men's 110m hurdles final (3.55am)
· Tom Bosworth and Callum Wilkinson are among the British hopes in the men's 20km race walk (8.30am)
· Holly Bradshaw aims to improve on fifth in Rio to challenge Greece's Katerina Stefanidi and Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia for an unlikely medal in the women's pole vault (11am)
· London 2012 champion Kirani James goes up against current world champion Steven Gardiner in the men's 400m final (1pm)

· One of the toughest Olympic events takes place in Tokyo Bay as GB's Hector Pardoe takes on the men's 20km marathon swim (10.30pm Wed)

· Galal Yafai takes on takes on Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov for a spot in the gold medal bout of the fly (48kg-52kg) class (6.48am)

· Lois Toulson and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (daughter of First Dates' Fred Sirieix) line up for the women's 10m platform (semi-final 2am; final 7am)

· Australia face Belgium in the men's final (11am)

> Today's schedule in full
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