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Hamilton: Mercedes pace deficit in Mexico down to lack of downforce

Lewis Hamilton thinks Mercedes’ pace deficit to Red Bull at Formula 1’s Mexican Grand Prix is down to his car simply lacking downforce.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The world champion had arrived in Mexico City well aware that Red Bull would likely have the edge, with its car and engine package having proved so good at the high-altitude venue in the past.

Although Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas led the way in opening free practice, it appears that Mercedes’ tactic of running more aggressive engine modes early on flattered its form.

So after title rival Max Verstappen dominated second free practice, ending it more than four tenths clear of Bottas, third fastest Hamilton said that there was no doubt that Mercedes was going to face a challenging weekend.

“The car has been generally feeling okay,” he said. “We've not really had any major issues and I think we are giving absolutely everything we've got.

“I think it was just that they are quicker than us at the moment. We've got no real concerns. We are just chipping away at our set up and just trying to improve it.

“But we're lacking downforce, which is definitely probably why we have the half second difference between us.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Bottas echoed Hamilton’s comments that the Mercedes car did not feel bad – it was just lacking speed.

“Starting the day, it was quite tricky with low grip,” he said. “It was a really dusty track and that's why it was quite difficult to get a proper read of how the car actually is.

“But I thought it was not far off how it should be, and we could then really fine tune it for P2. It didn't feel too bad, but there's still definitely time we need to find because Red Bull seems quick.”

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Bottas added that Mercedes would need to find more pace from somewhere if it was going to stop Verstappen grabbing pole position on Saturday.

“They definitely seem quicker today,” he said. “At least on the single lap, they have really strong pace on the soft tyre. So yeah, we need to find time if we want to want to fight for the pole.”

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