Lewis Hamilton admits matching Red Bull will likely be a challenge at the Mexican Grand Prix as Mercedes finished worst of the top three teams on Friday.
On a weekend when the Briton needs to finish seventh to become world champion, that was the position he would claim in second practice unusually behind both Renaults and the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley.
With the unique characteristics of racing at high altitude, Hamilton suggested the Brackley-based teams were numerous.
“The car was good in some places, but not so good in others,” he declared. “It’s not about one particular area; there are lots of different things that we can improve.
“It was difficult with the high track temperatures, which were melting and graining the tyres, but a lot of people were experiencing that today.
“We run the biggest wings at this track but are still quite quick on the straights because of the altitude, but then there’s not a lot of grip through the corners, even on the Hypersoft tyres.”
The runaway pacesetters on Friday were Red Bull with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo a second clear of the field and 1.3 ahead of Hamilton.
“We’ve got some ground to catch up on, so we’re now going to go through everything in the debrief and look at all the details to find some answers,” he added.
“Red Bull seem out of our reach at the moment, Ferrari are right there with us, but we’re here to try and compete, so we will do the best we can to have a real race.”
It isn't just the tyres which are feeling the strain under the Mexico City sun as the engines are also struggling in the thinner air.
While concerns at Renault are getting the most attention, at Mercedes too steps are being taken.
"We were overheating the power unit in a number of areas today, and that meant we had to protect against this by turning it down as a precaution," technical chief James Allison revealed.
"With a bit luck, and no little hard work, we can get ourselves into better shape tomorrow and on Sunday, when conditions are also forecast to be cooler.
"We have plenty of work ahead of us overnight and in FP3 tomorrow to put ourselves in a stronger position than we were able to achieve today."
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