Formula 1 | Mercedes F1 puts its gap with Red Bull in Mexico into perspective

Mercedes F1 team manager Toto Wolff said his team will face a tough weekend at Autodrome Hermanos Rodriguez as it is « one of the worst tracks » for their car.

The team finished the first day of free practice more than four tenths behind Max Verstappen in his Red Bull.

« It has never been a very happy place for us in terms of performance, » recognizes Wolff, « although we love Mexico because we feel welcome. »

Wolff echoed Lewis Hamilton’s claim that the team’s deficit was mainly due to a lack of downforce rather than his power unit’s performance.

“We don’t seem to be finding the ideal setting so we’re going in different directions. On a positive note, our engine is running well. It’s better at altitude than in previous years, that’s good. »

« So I think for us it’s about doing the best possible job on the chassis and the aero, and it might be difficult to match Max’s performance, to put it simply, I don’t know if we can aim for pole. « 

Wolff puts it into perspective, however: On her last visit to Mexico in 2019, in a year where she comfortably won both championships, she was 0.5 seconds off Verstappen’s fastest qualifying time.

“In our dominating year in 2019 where we crushed everyone, we lost qualifying here by half a second, if I’m not mistaken. So it’s probably the weakest of all our tracks. , with Monaco. This year we are a little closer to Red Bull and yet Red Bull is at a much higher level compared to 2019. We will start to appreciate the altitude (laughs). « 

Valtteri Bottas beat Hamilton yesterday. While speculation is whether Red Bull will have to impose team orders at the expense of local hero Sergio Perez, Wolff is hopeful he doesn’t have to ask Bottas to let their championship favorite Hamilton pass.

« No one wants to make such a horrible decision to play team orders when a driver can win the race. We haven’t been in that situation yet this year. »

“We were in Sochi in 2018 and hated every minute, every second of that decision. So I have to make up my mind on how to play this on Sunday, I have to see how qualifying goes and we will definitely discuss that. in advance. »

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