Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and championship leader Lewis Hamilton both believe the Silver Arrows squad is in for a tough time in Mexico City.
After Mercedes wrapped up the Constructors’ championship in Japan, Hamilton heads to Mexico with a mathematical chance of sealing the Drivers’ title thanks to a 64-point lead in the standings over teammate Valtteri Bottas, the only man that can theoretically undermine the Brit’s plans to conquer a sixth world crown.
However, Hamilton is playing down his odds of uncorking the champagne on Sunday afternoon, fearing Ferrari and the straightline speed of its SF90 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez – not to mention Mercedes’ recent track record in Mexico – will thwart his chances of success.
“I think Mexico is generally our worst race of the year because of the way our car is set up and it’s going to be a tough one for us,” Hamilton said.
“The last few have been pretty shocking, even though we’ve won the title there.
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“I’m hoping for a better weekend, but I think it’s going to be very hard to beat the Ferraris with those long straights.
“We have no hope of getting by on those straights, that’s for sure. But even if you look at the others, the McLarens are picking up some serious speeds on the straights, so are the Red Bulls so I think it will be a tricky one.
“I don’t anticipate it will be Mexico. I think we will be battling for a good few races.”
Ten days after celebrating his team’s sixth consecutive title, Wolff insists Mercedes will approach next weekend’s round with anything but a sense of immunity.
Wolff knows all too well how Mexico City’s specific challenges can throw a spanner into the works.
“There is no sense of entitlement in this team for future success, so we were quickly back to our usual race preparation routine after Japan,” Wolff said in the team’s preview.
“We know that the four remaining races are not going to be easy and we expect Mexico to be the most difficult one for us.
“The high altitude of the track brings some fairly unusual challenges as the low air density affects the downforce of the car, the cooling and the engine performance.
“It’s a combination that doesn’t particularly suit our car, but we will give it everything to try and limit the damage.
“We look forward to the fight and to the amazing Mexican crowd that shares our love for racing and turns the weekend into a brilliant celebration of motorsport.”
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