At the Friday end of the US Grand Prix, Red Bull topped the times list, and Sergio Perez. Lewis Hamilton finished third and Max Verstappen eighth. Hamilton’s fastest time was cut short, while traffic on the track forced Verstappen to abandon his performance and continue into the long distances.
That’s while the first free practice session looked much better for Mercedes by almost a second from the competition. Mercedes was happy with that, especially since the tires worked well and the car’s balance was just right. But in the second free practice, things looked less favourable.
There is work to be done
Had Hamilton not taken his time, he would have looked a little better on paper, says Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director: “In the VT2, we were less powerful. The tires warmed up faster, which made it difficult to score consistent times. It took that time. Away, Hamilton would have looked a little more competitive, but nonetheless it looked like we lost pace.”
“That could have something to do with a number of things. We may not yet have been able to adapt well to the hotter conditions. There could also be an improvement in the others, but also some of the adjustments we made didn’t work as well. We were expecting.”
Mercedes hasn’t sailed completely blind after the first two practice sessions: “We’ve found some starting points where we can play on Texan night. There’s still a lot to improve, but the feeling we left from second practice is the feeling that it’s very close to the top of the field and that both Red Bull will compete for first place.”
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