George Russell and Lewis Hamilton lost three tenths of a second before Max Verstappen’s pole lap for Red Bull but struggled in their final race in Q3.
Russell called his final lap “terrible”, while Hamilton had an engine wobble issue that impacted his final effort as he reported feeling power losses.
Both Mercedes cars could benefit from a tow from Verstappen on the run from the starting grid to Turn 1, which is one of the longest of the season. Mercedes generally performed better in the race than in qualifying, but team principal Wolff was uncomfortable expressing his confidence that he had the car to win on Sunday.
“I think in my whole life there have only been a handful of times where I’ve been confident, and never in Formula 1,” Wolff said. “So the truth is, I don’t know.
“I’m annoyed not to be on pole because that would have ticked a box, but having Max with his top speed advantage behind us would have been a problem tomorrow as well.
“Starting second and third can be advantageous, and hopefully we can get our nose or both noses into Turn 1 and disappear into the distance.
“But it’s definitely going to be difficult.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG, on the grid after qualifying
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Mercedes have three more races to avoid their first winless campaign since 2011, having struggled to keep pace with Red Bull and Ferrari for much of the season.
When asked if this was Mercedes’ best shot at winning a race so far this year, Wolff replied: “Yeah, I think so.
“The good thing is that in our simulations, we had [Mexico] sort of on the radar as being the best race. So it’s good that it correlates, the virtual world correlates with the real world.
“The most important [thing] it’s that we really have the rhythm, and slowly but surely we are moving forward and learning lessons for next year.
One of the biggest improvements for Mercedes in Mexico came from the high altitude conditions, resulting in reduced drag levels in the air, as well as the use of high downforce packages.
“For many years Mexico was not a good place for us because of the altitude,” Wolff said. “But [the] the power unit guys have really given us a super strong motor here.
“We suffered less from our trailing car here, while running high downforce like everyone else. In general, it’s been better for us in the past.
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