Mercedes’ wish for lap 1 in Mexico: Stick our noses into Turn 1 and disappear

Michelle Foster
George Russell at the mic Lewis Hamilton waving. Mexico October 2022

George Russell at the mic Lewis Hamilton waving. Mexico October 2022

Toto Wolff is hoping his drivers can capitalise on the long run down to Turn 1 and get the jump on Max Verstappen on the opening lap in Mexico.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton missed out on pole position in Saturday’s qualifying at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and will line up second and third behind Red Bull.

Russell was left to rue a “terrible” final lap in Q3 while Hamilton was on the back foot after his opening gambit was deleted for exceeding track limits.

But second and third on the grid is not necessarily a bad position for the Mercedes team-mates.

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has the longest run down to a first corner on the F1 calendar, and has proven to be a game-changer.

In three of the last four races the pole-sitter hasn’t been leading after Turn 2, the slipstream too powerful and giving those behind a speed advantage.

Wolff hopes the trend continues on Sunday.

“I’m annoyed about not being on pole because it would have ticked the box,” said the Mercedes motorsport boss.

“But equally, having Max with his top-speed advantage behind us would have been a problem.

“Starting second and third can be advantageous and I hope we can stick our nose, or both noses, into Turn 1 and then disappear into the distance.

“But definitely that’s going to be difficult.”

Mercedes will line up on the Mexican Grand Prix grid chasing their first win of this season.

The team has just three races left to break their duck or 2022 will go down as their first season without a P1 since 2011.

Asked if this race is the one that could end Mercedes’ winless run, Wolff replied: “I think so.

“The good thing is that in our simulations we had that in a way on the radar, as being the best race, so that is good that the virtual world correlates with the real world.”

The team boss was full of praise for Mercedes’ engine department, this year’s power unit not have the same struggles at high altitude as yesteryears.

“For many years, Mexico wasn’t a good place for us because of the altitude,” conceded Wolff.

“But the power unit guys have really given us a super-strong engine.

“We suffer less from our draggy car here, whilst running high downforce like all the others, and generally that has been a better place for us in the past.”

Read more: Winners and losers from Mexican Grand Prix qualifying