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Verstappen plays down Red Bull's Friday pace

  • Published on 25 Oct 2019 23:00
  • comments 0
  • By: Dieter Rencken & Fergal Walsh

Max Verstappen has played down Red Bull's Friday pace after it ended both practice sessions just over one-tenth down on the pace-setters.

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes concluded the opening session on the top of the timesheets before Sebastian Vettel took over in the afternoon, with the gap back to Verstappen reading 0.119s. 

However, Verstappen believes that Ferrari has too much pace in hand and affirms that the team will focus more on its long-run pace during Saturday practice, as it is not expecting to be in the fight for pole position.

"I don't think in qualifying we can fight with them," Verstappen said. "They are just too quick. The rest is all pretty much in the same speed range, but they are just miles ahead.

"But that's just how it is at the moment, we just can't gain the time back in the corners, unfortunately. I guess for us we've just got to focus more for the race, that we can keep the tyres under control, and I think it can be a good race."

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff added that the Silver Arrows are also lacking straight-line speed compared to Ferrari, as it has done since the start of the season.

Ferrari has taken pole position at every race since the return after the summer break, with Wolff considering the Scuderia outfit as favourites for pole position, labelling the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as one of Mercedes' worst tracks. 

"It's one of our worst tracks, we had graining last year and we are lacking power here compared to the others," Wolff admitted.

With drivers struggling throughout the session on the soft compound, Wolff is expecting the leader of the race on Sunday to control the race under a slow pace. 

"I think it's about surviving with the tyres and making it to the end. The ones at the front will be controlling the pace and holding back, just to make sure that they don't have another stop."

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