Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes’ automobile feels “evening and day” totally different on the Mexico Metropolis Grand Prix in comparison with final weekend in Austin, but is hopeful of being near the entrance row in qualifying.
Hamilton was seventh in second observe, probably the most consultant session of the day, whereas Mercedes team-mate George Russell was tenth after lacking first observe as Formulation 2 driver Frederik Vesti took over his automobile as a part of F1’s necessary rookie rules.
Toto Wolff instructed Sky Sports activities F1 after the primary session that the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez regarded as if it might be ” monitor” for Mercedes, with the staff predicting that Hamilton would have been within the high three in that opening observe with a clear lap.
A number of hours on, and reflecting on the opening day as an entire, Hamilton highlighted how totally different the W14 felt on monitor in comparison with final week, when he got here near a primary victory in virtually two years earlier than being disqualified for extreme plank put on at the USA GP.
“Not that nice. Not dodgy, simply not the best. A little bit of a battle within the automobile,” stated Hamilton.
“The automobile is evening and day totally different in comparison with final week. I do not actually know what to say. You simply by no means know what you are going to get with this one. Some days she’s nice and a few days she’s not.
“It is laborious to extract the lap. I believe there undoubtedly is efficiency there, it is simply attempting to extract it and it is fairly peaky this weekend perhaps simply with the aero map or no matter it might be.
“So we will work on it in a single day but it surely undoubtedly wasn’t a enjoyable day in comparison with P1 in Austin. We had been a bit off however hopefully in a single day we will discover one thing and tomorrow perhaps the automobile will probably be nicer to drive.”
Requested how a lot Mercedes can enhance going into Saturday, he added: “Unsure. Once more, you simply by no means know what to anticipate with this automobile. Perhaps we’ll make the modifications and we’ll decide that tempo up.
“I believe there was undoubtedly some efficiency in there to be nearer to perhaps [being] within the high three however we have got to determine [how] to make it simpler for us to extract that efficiency. So that is what we’ll work on.”
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has been one in all Mercedes’ much less profitable tracks because the occasion returned to the F1 calendar in 2015, though amid a troublesome season final yr they did run Max Verstappen shut in qualifying earlier than Hamilton completed second within the race.
Russell admitted he had “no thought” the place Mercedes can be in qualifying this time round however is concentrating on a top-four spot for Sunday’s grid forward of the long term all the way down to Flip One.
“There’s potential however we now have quite a lot of work to do in a single day. It’s totally tight, particularly with some very sudden automobiles,” stated Russell.
“We noticed some automobiles within the high 10 that we weren’t anticipating to be there. However we really feel like we now have received quite a bit to show and have gotten the chance to do it as nicely.
“It is all in regards to the tyres then on the long term you’re managing the engine, the brakes and that has an impression on the tyres. It may be a really difficult race on Sunday and I believe that is why qualifying will probably be key.”
The British driver was additionally requested what the staff have to work on and said: “Quicker race automobile. We had been in all probability within the mistaken window. Lewis and I had been on two totally different setups and we in all probability each weren’t in the precise window, in order that has given us a sign that in all probability midway between each is the precise place to be.
“It is irritating within the second to have a destructive automobile and never the perfect of days however by way of these troublesome moments you in all probability be taught greater than when the automobile is in a greater place.”
Crimson Bull anticipate shut qualifying
The highest eight automobiles had been cut up by lower than 4 tenths of a second within the second session, with Crimson Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri, Mercedes and Alpine all represented.
Verstappen has been imperious in Mexico Metropolis up to now, with dominant victories in 2017, 2018, 2021 and 2022. If he stands on the highest step of the rostrum this Sunday, he’ll break his personal document of 15 wins in a single marketing campaign.
Over one lap, Verstappen has been beatable this yr however Sundays have typically been all in regards to the three-time world champion, a pattern he thinks will proceed this weekend.
“In fact we glance aggressive, in order that’s good. There are all the time just a few issues to nonetheless enhance however total, a Positive begin to the weekend – in all probability a bit of higher than I anticipated, in order that’s all the time good,” stated Verstappen.
“The monitor may be very slippery, like all the time, tyres are very troublesome to handle as nicely on the long term, so there are nonetheless just a few issues we will work on.
“McLaren have been shut for just a few races now, so for me there is no shock there. It may be extremely aggressive over one lap and the race tempo, once more, that is a special story.”
Verstappen’s Crimson Bull team-mate Sergio Perez loved the roars of the crowds at each nook of the monitor as he seems to be for his first podium since Monza in September.
Perez, who was fifth in second observe, says he forgot he was driving on residence soil when within the automobile and reckons he has extra potential within the RB19 after a mistake on his finest lap on the final nook.
“We did not have a simple day. We did not get learn on the tender over a single lap. I had a yellow flag on my lap, so I ended up doing it on the second timed lap and it was not very simple,” defined Perez.
“So loads of issues to know. We additionally went with totally different compounds to know them for Sunday. Total, we’re wanting in place. We’ve path that we have to take.”
Norris: Issues may swing in a short time both manner
Lando Norris is in search of a fifth consecutive podium this weekend and was Verstappen’s closest challenger, ending 0.119s behind the Dutchman.
However Norris isn’t anticipating to have the ability to catch Verstappen, stating “issues may swing in a short time both manner”.
Requested if there have been many modifications McLaren may make to shut as much as the lead Crimson Bull, Norris answered: “Not quite a bit. I believe we began the weekend off nicely. We typically do and all the time have a good suggestion of the place to place the automobile to start with and it isn’t far off the place we finish the weekend.
“There’s not quite a bit to achieve by way of the weekend. There’s all the time little issues and little issues add up. So nonetheless stuff to enhance and likewise my driving, little issues right here and there, however to problem Crimson Bull will probably be robust round right here.”
Charles Leclerc was third quickest within the second session on Friday and Ferrari have been very quick over one lap at instances this season. The automobile has good mechanical grip and rides kerbs nicely, which ought to go well with the traits of the Mexico Metropolis monitor.
Nonetheless, Leclerc feels Ferrari is not going to be within the battle for pole place on Saturday regardless of figuring out the areas they should work on.
“It will be an enormous shock if we’re on pole place however by no means say by no means. It is a troublesome monitor to place a lap collectively however I really feel like this weekend we’re a bit too far-off,” stated the Ferrari driver.
“We nonetheless have quite a lot of work to do as a result of McLaren, Crimson Bull and Max appear to be sturdy. Mercedes is a little more troublesome to learn into for now.”
When to observe the Mexico Metropolis GP reside solely on Sky Sports activities F1
6.15pm: Mexico Metropolis GP Follow Three
9pm: Mexico Metropolis GP Qualifying build-up (additionally on Sky Sports activities Foremost Occasion)
10pm: Mexico Metropolis GP Qualifying (additionally on Sky Sports activities Foremost Occasion)
6.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Mexico Metropolis GP build-up (additionally on Sky Sports activities Foremost Occasion)
8pm: The MEXICO CITY GRAND PRIX (additionally on Sky Sports activities Foremost Occasion)
10pm: Chequered Flag: Mexico Metropolis GP
F1 is in Mexico for the center leg of the Americas triple header. Watch the entire Mexico Metropolis Grand Prix weekend reside on Sky Sports activities F1, with Sunday’s race at 8pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW