Mark Hughes has explained why Mercedes has been slow in Mexico, revealing the various technical details behind it.
Max Verstappen was half a second quicker than Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. There is a significant deficit Mercedes has to deal with during the weekend, and it is one that will deliver a blow to their title hopes.
The worst part about the issue is that the two Mercedes drivers were very happy with the setup, so that means everything Mercedes has may not be enough.
Hughes explained why Mercedes has been slow in Mexico, and gave an insight into the various factors influencing their pace.
“Friday in Mexico suggests that Red Bull’s pre-event status of hot favourite is fully justified,” he wrote in his column for the Race.
“Max Verstappen’s fastest time was 0.5s quicker than that of Lewis Hamilton and set at pretty much the same time. Valtteri Bottas slotted between them, but less than a tenth quicker than Hamilton. Sergio Perez’s best lap was within hundredths of Hamilton’s.
“Putting their best sectors together changes the picture only slightly, in that it brings Hamilton 0.15s closer to Verstappen but that’s still a chunky 0.35s deficit around a short lap.
“It’s not as though the Mercedes was out of its set-up spot, either, both drivers professing themselves happy with its general feel and balance.
“It all suggests the Mercedes has better traction and perhaps a more driveable power curve – and lower drag.
“But the fact that the Red Bull can initially overcome the Mercedes’ better entry onto the pit straight despite its higher drag tends to confirm that the Honda does have a power advantage at this altitude.
Sergio Perez gave his thoughts after Friday, and represented the situation the home driver finds himself in.
“I am feeling more comfortable on the long runs than over one lap,” Perez said, “so I think there is still the potential to improve the car on the short runs.
“I have one more session to work on them and my target is to be on that front row tomorrow.
“The margins are going to be very close in qualifying to the Mercedes but hopefully we can lock out that front row.”
Read more: Hughes highlights how COTA affected Hamilton and Verstappen – “Neither car was driven close to limits”