Ferrari have yet to find the sweet spot around Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez after the first day of free practice for the Mexican Grand Prix, both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen struggled to find grip at the high altitude venue.
Vettel, who needs to win all three remaining races in the championship to stay in title contention, was only good for fourth fastest at the end of FP2 on Friday afternoon, although ahead of Mercedes title rival Lewis Hamilton – also struggling on day one – but more ominously the Ferrari driver was well over a second down on the pace-setting Red Bulls.
In his end of the day debrief, Vettel explained, “It was difficult to make the car work the right way. However, it was interesting to compare the packages this morning, while during the afternoon session we focused more on preparing for the qualifying session and the race, which was good.”
“On the fast lap though, we struggled to find the right balance and squeeze everything from the tires. The difficult part is that there is no grip and downforce, so it’s pretty slippery and the tires don’t work the right way.”
Sebastian: I think the key point will be the tyres
“So, I think this is why, in some cases, you can see big gaps in lap times. We’ll try to fix everything for [Saturday]. This will be the main job to do. I believe everybody can still improve, and we’ll try as hard as we can, but I think the key point will be the tyres,” added Vettel.
In the sister car, which won last week in Austin, Kimi Raikkonen had similar issues, “This track has always been tricky to start with, because of the very low downforce, and it was no different with very limited grip on the track, so it’s easy to make mistakes and flatspot a tire.”
“Because of this, we had a lot of vibrations in the car, which is not ideal, but towards the end it was getting better. How good we are against the others we’ll see. For sure we improved through the session, but there is still some work to be done,” added the Finn who was .
Ferrari are also in a tussle with Mercedes for this year’s constructors’ title race, the Reds are 66 points adrift in the standings with three races remaining in the championship.