Verstappen says he has ‘good feeling’ after dominating FP2 – but Horner warns Mercedes have time ‘in the pocket’
Red Bull ended Friday of the Mexico City Grand Prix only cautiously optimistic about their chances for qualifying and the race, despite Max Verstappen having dominated proceedings in Free Practice 2.
Verstappen wound up third in FP1, behind the two Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen’s title rival Lewis Hamilton – who currently sits 12 points behind the Dutchman in the drivers’ standings.
FP2: Verstappen lays down a marker after topping second practice in Mexico City
But Verstappen was then indomitable as the qualifying simulations of FP2 got going on Friday afternoon, stopping the clocks with a time of 1m 17.301s – a full 0.424s faster than Bottas could manage in the leading Mercedes, and 0.509s quicker than Hamilton.
“It was quite a good day,” reckoned two-time Mexico winner Verstappen. “Of course, we’re always trying to improve the car, trying to make it feel better. Of course also in FP1, the track was very dirty, so in FP2 that was already a bit nicer. The car’s working quite well. A few things… to look at but pretty good.
“We have a good feeling but tomorrow we need to be there as well,” he added. “We need to look into a lot of things, but it was a positive start to the weekend.”
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Verstappen’s circumspection was echoed by his team boss Christian Horner, who despite watching his championship-leading driver lap the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez nearly half a second faster than Mercedes could manage in FP2, reckoned that the Silver Arrows – who head Red Bull by 23 points in the constructors’ standings – had yet to show their full hand.
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“That was a solid session for us I think,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 after FP2. “Both drivers have started to find a set-up they’re liking and both the short runs and long runs are looking reasonable. I think Mercedes have still got a bit in the pocket, so I don’t think we’ve seen their full potential yet, but focusing on ourselves, it was a reasonable day.
“The engine’s working well at this altitude,” added Horner, after all four Honda-powered cars ended FP2 in the top 10. “It’s a track that has suited our car over the last few years. We’ve found a reasonable balance today, but we’ve seen all year that there’s been less than a tenth between the cars and we’re expecting that to be the same tomorrow.”
The title fight ahead of the Mexico City GP
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