Lewis Hamilton ‘shocked’ by Mercedes’ pace after sending clear message to Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children

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Lewis Hamilton says he’s “just as shocked as everyone else” after Mercedes outpaced both Red Bull drivers to take a front-row lockout at the Mexican Grand Prix. Mercedes looked like they were on the back-foot coming into the weekend after struggling for pace against Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

But Bottas set a blistering 1:15.875 in front of a packed-out circuit at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with Hamilton lining up second, setting a lap 0.145s slower than his team-mate in second. Verstappen meanwhile was 0.350s back in third, with home hero Sergio Perez lining up fourth on Sunday.

Afterwards Hamilton was full of praise for his Mercedes team-mate, adding he was shocked by their pace in Mexico.

“We did an amazing job,” said Hamilton. “I’m so proud of Valtteri,  I think he’s been driving so well in these last few races. So it’s really great for the team. They’ve been working so hard. We didn’t think we had the pace this weekend.

“So to lock out the front row is pretty special. And obviously gives us a good fight with the others tomorrow.”

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Mercedes were outpaced by Red Bull in the final practice session of the weekend, despite being fastest on Friday in the first session of the weekend.

But with traffic, and seemingly an issue with Red Bull’s rear wing, Mercedes were able to capitalise in Mexico City.

But when asked what had changed, Hamilton remained just in the dark as everyone else.

He added: “We have no idea, they were like six-tenths ahead at one stage and then four-tenths ahead but whatever happens and once we got qualified all sudden we had better pace.

“I’m just as shocked as everyone, but we’ll still take it.”

Hamilton currently sits 12 points behind Verstappen in the driver standings with just five points remaining.

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Speaking of his team-mate on pole, Hamilton added:  “Naturally, love to be on in his position, but again, he did a fantastic first Q3 run one.

“And so then I just I gave him a little tow but he did a great job today.”

Championship leader Verstappen meanwhile seemed to get bogged down after an incident with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and his team-mate Sergio Perez, while struggling with his set-up.

Speaking after qualifying he said: “It seemed like through qualifying the balance went away a little bit.

“But then actually in the last lap, I was on for a good lap and then I don’t know what happened in front of me but there was two guys going off.

“So I thought there was going to be a yellow flag so I back out and then the lap is of course destroyed.

“Even with that, not having a great balance, I think we could have still gone for that pole lap.

“But, third is not amazing, but I think it’s still better than starting second.”

The championship is set to go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi, the final race of the season, with Hamilton keen to claw back points in the title fight.

The Mexican Grand Prix gets underway at 7pm BST on Sunday. 

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