Lewis Hamilton admits that Red Bull is looking out of reach after Friday practice in Mexico. The Milton-Keynes outfit was well ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari, with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo heading both Friday practice sessions from Mexico City.
Mercedes suffered from overheating engines throughout the day and also saw the hyper soft tyre degrade extremely quickly. The German squad was not only behind Red Bull and rivals Ferrari, but also Renault who was the surprise of the bunch after Friday running.
It is likely that the top teams will pull some time back overnight, but for now, Hamilton fears that the energy drink squad is too far ahead: "The car was good in some places, but not so good in others," he said. "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.
"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. On the long run I think I was right there with Sebastian [Vettel]'s times, so we'll have a bit of a battle."
Red Bull won the Mexican Grand Prix twelve months ago, with Verstappen getting past pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel at the start. The team has been targeting the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for a number of weeks, believing it to be their best chance to win for the remainder of 2018.
Degradation on the hyper soft tyre was high, with the pink-walled compound only lasting three to four laps on the long runs. But Mercedes team boss James Allison added that the tyres were not the only issue the German squad had during the day.
"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," he said. "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."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing