According to Tom Clarkson, the Mercedes team in the US had a completely wrong idea of its speed compared to the Red Bull Racing. The German racing stable admitted to him that this was partly because they drove the VT1 with a boosted power supply.
The Circuit of the Americas has been considered for years a true Mercedes circuit. No one was surprised when Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton set the fastest times in their first free practice. But from the second free practice, things deteriorated for the team. Sergio Perez set the fastest time in both VT2 and VT3, while Max Verstappen took first place. Clarkson knows how to make that difference. “I think the first free practice on Friday was very misleading. Mercedes was in P1 and P2, but Verstappen couldn’t set a lap because of the traffic. So we thought Mercedes would already be at the expected speed,” he reveals. F1 Nation Podcast.
Mercedes had an unrealistic image
“Sunday evening, after the race, I spoke to people from Mercedes. I asked how confident they were after the first free practice. They said: ‘At the beginning we had a lot of confidence.’ But after VT2, where Checo Perez was the fastest, we only got a realistic picture. We realized two things then. First, that we revved the engine a little higher than normal in the first free practice. Secondly, we didn’t realize at the time how much the traffic had affected he had his first free practice on Verstappen. “
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“They had an unrealistic picture after the first free practice,” Clarkson continues. “The second free practice gave a better picture of the weekend. Lewis Hamilton put in a great run in qualifying, climbing to the front row. But that came more from the driver than the capabilities of the car.”
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