The Mercedes team secured a one-two in the first practice session at the Mexican Grand Prix on Friday, but that glory was short-lived as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen outperformed both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in FP2. The defending world champion got candid about the situation and admitted that his championship rival may simply be too quick this weekend.
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has always seen strong performances from the Red Bull, and this weekend may not be any different. Hamilton knows that he needs to step up his game, with even his teammate Bottas trumping him in both the practice sessions so far.
More significantly, Verstappen was half a second quicker in FP2. “They’re definitely too quick for us at the moment,” Hamilton said after the session, before adding that he still feels like they have a strong chance to keep pace with the Red Bulls. “The car has been feeling OK. I’ve not really had any major issues,” he said.
Hamilton is always one to stay positive, but his honest assessment reveals that the Red Bulls currently have an advantage.
“We’re giving it absolutely everything we’ve got, and I think they are just quicker than us at the moment,” he said, before pointing to their lack of downforce as a possible culprit. He then assured that the Mercedes team will be busy finding a solution to the pace disadvantage.
Bottas also spoke up and complained about low grip on his car. He said that it was a dusty track and that made things more difficult for him and his teammate.
Nevertheless, practice pace is often not necessarily reflective of race pace. The Mercedes drivers have always been strong for the long haul on Sunday, and the tight results of the practice sessions make it impossible to predict which team will be dominant on Saturday qualifying and on the main race on Sunday.
Mercedes will want both drivers to finish high up in the points to extend their 23-point gap over Red Bull, while Hamilton will also be busy finding a way to overcome Verstappen’s 12-point advantage in the Driver’s Championship. Red Bull’s hometown hero Sergio Perez needs to bring his A-game in front of home fans in order to help his teammate as much as he possibly can.