Lewis Hamilton has speculated that Aston Martin Red Bull Racing could prove to be superior to Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport at the Mexican Grand Prix after the reigning world champions lagged behind on Friday at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Max Verstappen topped both Friday Free Practice sessions for Red Bull, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo immediately following him in the morning and afternoon. Hamilton and Mercedes could not get within a second of the ultimate pace on either occasion, even falling behind both Renault Sport Formula 1 Team cars in FP1.
Additionally, Hamilton reported “drops in power” in FP1, as Mexico City‘s high altitude atmosphere and dusty track played around with the normal pecking order. The Brit, who will become a five-time world champion with a seventh place finish in any of the last three races of the 2018 season, believes that Mercedes have to improve in “lots of different things” as the weekend progresses.
“The car was good in some places, but not so good in others,” said Hamilton.
“It’s not about one particular area; there are lots of different things that we can improve. It was difficult with the high track temperatures, which were melting and graining the tyres, but a lot of people were experiencing that today.
“We run the biggest wings at this track but are still quite quick on the straights because of the altitude, but then there’s not a lot of grip through the corners, even on the hyper-soft tyres.”
Pirelli Motorsport were forced into bringing the three softest compounds to Mexico in order to compensate for the loss of aerodynamic performance. However Friday running saw the hyper-soft tyres fall away and grain within eight laps, triggering the ire of numerous drivers.
Hamilton says that, for the time being, Red Bull are too far ahead of Mercedes but Scuderia Ferrari seem close. Ferrari were generally behind on Friday, with a response from both teams expected.
“We’ve got some ground to catch up on, so we’re now going to go through everything in the debrief and look at all the details to find some answers,” he continued.
“Red Bull seem out of our reach at the moment, Ferrari are right there with us, but we’re here to try and compete, so we will do the best we can to have a real race.”