Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in opening practice at the Mexico City GP, but was just over a tenth behind Carlos Sainz’s lead time; George Russell topped the timesheet in the second practice; watch qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 9pm on Saturday
Last update: 29/10/22 07:34
Lewis Hamilton was pleased with the performance of his Mercedes during Friday’s testing in Mexico.
Lewis Hamilton says his Mercedes is “feeling better and better”, after an encouraging practice on Friday at the Mexico City Grand Prix appeared to leave the Briton well placed to continue his recent strong form.
Hamilton finished fifth in early practice as Carlos Sainz led a Ferrari one-two ahead of the Red Bulls, but the seven-time world champion was just over a tenth off the Spaniard’s lead time .
Mercedes are yet to win a race in what has been a hugely disappointing season for them following the introduction of new design regulations, but Hamilton came closest to a win by finishing second to the champion of the world Max Verstappen in Texas last weekend.
“I feel really, really good,” Hamilton said.
“We generally had a very good session today. I really enjoyed riding the track.
“The car feels better and better as we work on it and understand it better.”
Martin Brundle was at the side of the track to take a look at turns 10 and 11 during the second practice of the Mexico Grand Prix.
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez offers a unique challenge to F1 cars with Mexico City’s high altitude, which has the potential to play into Mercedes’ hands given their general inability to compete with Red Bull in more regular conditions.
Meanwhile, the fact that – for a second consecutive race weekend – Friday’s second practice session was used to test next year’s Pirelli tires means teams have amassed less data and there is greater unpredictability ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.
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“I don’t really know where we are compared to the others because everyone is following different programs,” Hamilton said.
Asked if he expects further progress throughout the weekend, Hamilton added: “I have no idea, you never know with this car. Tomorrow morning it could slap me and not be happy.”
“But I hope that’s not the case and of course we will do a lot of work tonight to see if we can burn ourselves a little further.”
Russell: It was our best Friday of the season
George Russell, who sat out Friday’s first session as Nyck de Vries stepped in for one of Mercedes’ young driver sessions, was also pleased with the performance of the W13.
Russell was one of four riders able to use 2022 tires – and therefore set think times – in the second practice session after missing the opening session.
With Red Bull and Ferrari not among the teams holding young driver tests, Russell unsurprisingly ran over the time sheet.
“The car is working well at the moment and I feel good here,” said Russell. “The pace seems relatively strong, but we know the challenges of a circuit like this.
“I think Sunday is going to be really difficult with the temperature management for the engine, for the brakes.
“Qualifying, getting the tires in the right window for that single lap is also going to be very difficult. It’s probably one of the best Fridays, that’s for sure.”
While Hamilton has excelled in recent weeks, Russell has endured the toughest part of his highly impressive debut season with Mercedes but is aiming for “at least” a podium in Sunday’s race.
Charles Leclerc crashed his Ferrari in the second practice session, ending his session prematurely.
“I’d like to think that’s at least a possible podium finish,” Russell said.
“It’s probably one of, if not our best Friday of the year. Between the two of us we have 14 podium finishes, so that’s absolutely what we’re aiming for.
“Not having the normal FP2 running where you get to figure out the long term, back to back rounds of your rivals, it’s going to be hard to know and we may be in a lot of trouble soon if the temperature gets a bit warmer or colder and we find ourselves having to manage everything on Sunday.
“It won’t be just a Saturday and Sunday, that’s for sure.”