Valtteri Bottas admits the sixth-tenth deficit Mercedes had to Formula 1 rival Ferrari at the end of Mexican Grand Prix Friday practice is “bigger than expected”.

Bottas could only set the fourth-quickest time in second practice as he ended up 0.614s slower than Sebastian Vettel, who topped FP2 ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc in Mexico City.

“It’s bigger than we expected at this point of the weekend, but we know we can find some gains,” Bottas said.

“We know that we have quite a big deficit on the straight liens compared to Ferrari, so even qualifying on the front row it could be tricky to maintain the lead into Turn 1.

“But we’ll try to do the best in both, but in the end, as we’ve seen, it’s always the Sunday that matters. We’ve been strong on Sundays, so hopefully this weekend too.

“I felt we were still lacking a bit of grip,” he added. “Both Ferrari and Red Bull seem to be performing well on this track so far, but as always, it’s only Friday.

“There’s usually lots of things we can do better the next day, we just need to work hard tonight.”

Teammate Lewis Hamilton, who can clinch a sixth drivers’ world title if he outscores Bottas by 14 points this weekend, ended up three-tenths adrift of the Finn and nearly a second off pacesetter Vettel in FP2.

The Briton topped the morning session but said Mercedes struggled to extract the most from its tyres throughout Friday’s running in Mexico.

“It’s not been a great day but this is how it usually is here,” Hamilton conceded.

“We’ve definitely learnt a lot and I haven’t had any particularly major dramas it is just trying to understand these tyres.

“It was cooler this morning and then a bit warmer in FP2 and from the short runs to the long runs it’s just hard to pinpoint exactly how to get these tyres working. But that’s the name of the game.

“I think we’re not massively far off the Red Bulls but the Ferraris, they just keep turning up their engine down the straights and the difference between us and them is massive.

“This afternoon I struggled a bit more with the tyres and the lap wasn’t spectacular, so there’s more to come for sure.

“Valtteri was three tenths up the road but I’ll try and figure that out to pull it out for tomorrow.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff concurred with his drivers, adding: ”We're not good enough.

“We know that it's a difficult track for us. We're just lacking the performance. I think it's one of our worst tracks.

“We had cold graining last year, and we're lacking power compared to the others.”

 

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