Lewis Hamilton conceded that Red Bull appear to have a better package than Mercedes this weekend, and owes his deficit to a lack of downforce.
The seven-time World Champion was half a second off Max Verstappen’s pace in FP2 on Friday, as the cars took part in their qualifying simulations.
The Mercedes driver said that his car was not feeling bad to drive, but he acknowledged that he feels Red Bull simply have more pace in their car heading into the weekend – and downforce is currently the difference between the teams.
“The car’s generally been feeling okay,” Hamilton said after practice, on Sky F1. “We’ve not really had any major issues, we were giving it everything we’ve got and I think it was just that they’re just quicker than us at the moment.
“We’ve got no real concerns, just chipping away at our set-up and trying to improve it. We’re lacking downforce, which is probably why we had that half-a-second difference between us.
“It’s looking good for us to be able to try and battle these guys, but they’re definitely too quick for us at the moment.”
Lewis Hamilton calls for respect after Max Verstappen's 'stupid' comment
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In the sister Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas out-paced Hamilton in both practice sessions on Friday by narrow margins, as the Finn has appeared to get to grips with Formula 1’s return to Mexico this weekend.
He admitted that driving a green track in such dusty conditions meant that times were probably not representative – especially in the early part of the day – but said the team still have work to do to get themselves on a par with the title rivals this weekend.
He said: “Starting the day was quite tricky with the low grip, it was a really dusty track and that’s why it was difficult to get a proper read on how the car actually is.
“But I thought it was not far off how it should be, and we could really fine-tune more in practice two, and it didn’t feel too bad.
“But there’s still definitely time we need to find, because the Red Bull seems to be quick.
“They definitely seem quicker today, at least on the single lap. They have really strong pace on the soft tyre, so we need to find a bit of time if we want to fight for pole.”