RACE DEBRIEF

    After Mercedes secured a one-two in first practice at the Mexico City Grand Prix, Red Bull hit back with Max Verstappen leading FP2. And that led Lewis Hamilton to give a frank assessment of his rival team’s pace ahead of this weekend's race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

    Hamilton finished second in the first session, behind team mate Valtteri Bottas, and followed that up with P3 in FP2. But he was half a second off championship rival Verstappen in the second session as the Dutchman showed an imppressive turn of pace to keep the Silver Arrows behind.

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    “Yes, it’s looking good for us, [the objective] being able to try and battle with these guys. But they’re definitely too quick for us at the moment,” Hamilton said on Friday afternoon. “The car has been feeling OK. I’ve not really had any major issues.

    “We’re giving it absolutely everything we’ve got, and I think they are just quicker than us at the moment. No real concerns. Just chipping away at our set-up and just trying to improve it. But we’re lacking downforce, which is… probably why we had that half-a-second difference ahead of us,” he explained.

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    Hamilton was half a second off Verstappen's pace in FP2

    As for team mate Bottas – leader in the first session and runner up by four-tenths in the second – the Finn echoed Hamilton’s comments as he looked at the Red Bull of Verstappen ahead.

    “Yes, I mean, starting the day, it was quite tricky with the low grip. It was really dusty, dusty track, and that’s why it was quite difficult to get a proper read on how the car actually is,” he said.

    “I thought it was not far off how it should be and we could really fine-tune for Practice 2 and actually it didn’t feel too bad. But there’s still definitely time we need to find because Red Bull seems a bit quick,” said Bottas.

    FP2: Verstappen lays down a marker after topping second practice in Mexico City

    “They definitely seem quicker today, at least on the single runs; they have really strong pace on the strong tyre. So yes we need to find a bit time if we want to be in the fight for the pole,” he concluded.

    Mercedes have a 23-point lead over Red Bull ahead of this weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix while Hamilton is 12 points behind Verstappen – but it seems that the Red Bulls have the upper hand at this circuit already. Will the Silver Arrows turn that around on Saturday?