Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was unhurt in a heavy crash in Friday practice at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Leclerc lost control at the Esses and spun backwards into the barrier, bringing his session to an end and causing a red-flag for barrier repairs.

His team-mate Carlos Sainz topped the first session, while Mercedes’ George Russell was quickest in the second.

And both Russell and team-mate Lewis Hamilton were happy with their cars after setting strong pace.

Russell’s fastest overall time in the second session was set on the standard 2022 Pirelli tyres.

The session was mainly given over to testing 2023 development rubber on pre-determined blind programmes set by the tyre supplier, but Russell was one of five drivers allowed to use the standard rubber because his car been driven by a young driver in the first session.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was fastest of the drivers who exclusively used the 2023 tyres.

The seven-time champion was 0.03 seconds faster than Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and 0.039secs ahead of the Mexican’s team-mate Max Verstappen.

In a closely matched field, Leclerc was fourth quickest on the test tyres, just 0.109secs behind Hamilton, with the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz 0.184secs off the seven-time champion’s time.

Both Mercedes drivers were positive about their day’s work.

Hamilton said: “I feel really, really good. Generally had a really good session today. I really enjoyed driving around the track, the car is feeling better and better as we work more through it and understand it more.”

Russell added: “The car’s working well at the moment and I got a good feel around here, the pace is looking relatively strong.

“I would like to think it is podium possible at least. It is probably one of if not our best Friday of the year.”

Russell setting the pace on 2022 rubber while most ran on the development tyres repeated a trend from last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, when there was also a 2023 tyre test in second practice and the fastest time was also set on the 2022 rubber.

Russell headed Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, all on 2022 tyres, in the second session.

In the first session, run on 2022 rubber but on a dusty and dirty track, Sainz was 0.047 seconds ahead of Leclerc, followed by Perez, Verstappen, Hamilton and Fernando Alonso’s Alpine.

Verstappen had a spin at the Esses in the first session, one corner on from Leclerc’s later incident, but managed to stay out of the barriers.

The world champion also had an oversteer moment at Turn Five later in the session as he struggled on the low-grip track.

Perez and Verstappen, who set identical times to the thousandth of a second, were 0.12secs behind Sainz, with Hamilton 0.142secs off the pace and Alonso 0.192secs behind.

The young drivers took part in the first session because all teams are required by regulation to devote two Friday practice sessions in the season to running drivers who have no more than two grands prix experience.

The quickest was New Zealander Liam Lawson in the Alpha Tauri in 16th place, followed by Williams’ Logan Sargeant, set to be their second driver in 2023 if he qualifies for an F1 licence and Mercedes’ Nick de Vries, who is driving for Alpha Tauri next year.

Alpine’s Mick Doohan and Haas driver Pietro Fittipaldi, who both had their sessions curtailed by technical problems – as did Lawson – were the slowest.