The Friday times do not specify points or positions on the starting grid, but the ones that appeared today in Mexico at the end of the second free practice session did hit a target.
Since the start of the season in the all-out showdown between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, nothing has been left to chance, and when messages can be sent that destabilize the opponent’s chest, the possibility is quickly exploited.
Today Verstappen’s print time in the FP2 session not only confirmed the Dutchman’s excellent start to the weekend, but caused some discomfort at Mercedes, as confirmed by Hamilton himself. 0″ 509 The gap corrected by the world champion against Max in the qualifying simulation, and more than six tenths of a second lap in the long run. But what went wrong in the Mercedes garage?
Hamilton commented: “We haven’t had any particular problems – the car in general runs well. I think we use everything there, and we have no specific concerns, they (referring to Red Bull) are faster than us. When there is a half a second difference , it is almost always explained by a lack of compressive strength, because otherwise we are already doing our best. At the moment they are definitely too fast for us.”
Hamilton doesn’t say it publicly, but the blow that arrived today has clearly dashed hopes of trying to break the counter, or of trying to recover from Red Bull (on a track unfavorable for Mercedes) what they lost in Austin with the roles reversed.
The only question that remains open is the question of margins. Today, the asphalt at Hermanos Rodriguez proved to be incredibly dirty, and above all, in the first practice session, the cars raised a cloud of dust that gradually fell (but not completely gone) in the afternoon session.
The grip was far from up to the usual standards, but tomorrow it should be better with asphalt rubber, especially in the perfect streak.
On the power unit front, according to Red Bull, Mercedes has pressed everything possible. “During the sessions, we have a group of Milton Keynes analysts studying GPS data – Christian Horner revealed – so we can understand when to ‘turn on’ the engine and when to ‘turn it off’, and they will certainly do the same with us. It’s a way to monitor what still They have it in their pocket, and that’s what we saw today.”
In very poor grip conditions, Red Bull has assured enviable stability, and Mercedes are hopeful that the development of the track will meet their needs. In fact, this is the only hope the world champion team should reduce the gap on Verstappen, but the impression is that the track conditions can reduce the gaps, but not change the positions.
Behind Verstappen, between Bottas (second) and Sergio Perez (fourth) the gap is 0″ 146, and here the battle for the front row seat is still open.
The trio appears to be immune to the attacks of the rest of the group, given that the first of the “others”, Carlos Sainz, was confirmed half a second behind Perez. For Ferrari, the Mexican Friday started with an unexpected event, due to Charles Leclerc’s call against the outer barriers of the “16th” round which cost Monaco a half-hour pit stop for repairs, but other than that the signs were positive.
Ferrari, like all individual seats on the track (with the exception of Red Bull), will also try to work on balancing, hoping the track will improve traction, but the SF21s have confirmed they are the two favorites to fill that role. From the third force, let see more room for improvement.
Also in this case, the questions have more to do with margins than with locations, and the goal for now remains to put the two cars in the third row, a goal that seems within reach.
Direct rival, McLaren, never shows his full potential on Friday, but seeing Norris and Ricciardo outside the top 10 (the Australian also due to the transmission problem) doesn’t help to believe in the possibility of a big recovery tomorrow.
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