Verstappen warns ‘you never know what Mercedes will do’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen standing in the back of the Red Bull garage. Mexico November 2021

Max Verstappen standing in the back of the Red Bull garage with his hands on his hips as his mechanics work on his car. Mexico November 2021

Max Verstappen is refusing to rule out a fightback from Mercedes despite dominating Friday’s practice at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Having lost out in FP1 by a tenth of a second as the drivers put in the laps at a very dusty Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Verstappen upped his pace in Friday’s second practice to finish P1.

The Red Bull driver clocked a 1:17.301 to finish over four-tenths up on Valtteri Bottas with his title rival, Lewis Hamilton, a further tenth off the pace.

“Overall pretty good feeling in the car,” Verstappen told Formula 1 Cafe on Ziggo Sport.

“In FP2 we adjusted things to the car and they were a bit better.”

The 24-year-old used the soft Pirelli tyres to set his P1 time but earlier in the session proved to be quickest of the mediums too.

Asked if the yellow-walled Pirellis would be the ‘right tyre’ for him to use in Q2, he replied: “It didn’t look wrong in any case.

“We are quite a bit faster than the teams behind us and hopefully it will be the same tomorrow [Saturday].”

But while Verstappen was an emphatic four-tenths up on closest Mercedes in second practice, the championship leader by no means believes pole position is already in his hands.

“It does look good today, but you never know what Mercedes will do,” he said.

“I can only speak for myself and I just had a good day so that’s always good.”

Asked if he’d be okay with a boring race if it meant a win, Verstappen replied: “In this season I think that’s totally fine.”

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko seems to think that pole position is in the bag for Verstappen, the only question is who will make up positions two to five.

That, he feels, could see Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly take on the Mercedes team-mates.

“Perez is close, he didn’t have a clean lap in traffic,” he told Motorsport-Magazin.com.

“It will be tight from second to fifth. I think Gasly is involved, he didn’t get an optimal lap either.”

Perez finished Friday’s FP2 in fourth place, 0.570s off the pace, while Gasly was P6, splitting the Ferraris.

 

Surprises in Friday's practice sessions

The Red Bulls are considered favourites for the weekend, but if FP1 is anything to go by it might be closer than first thought.