Mercedes racing director Andrew Shovlin says the fight for pole position in Austin will be very close as he believes their biggest competitor Red Bull is extremely strong. Valtteri Bottas was the fastest at the opening of the weekend at the U.S.
Grand Prix, followed by Lewis Hamilton. In 3rd place was Max Verstappen with almost one second behind. However, things changed in the second free practice. Sergio Perez achieved the fastest time and Hamilton and Bottas finished 3rd and 4th respectively.
Red Bull’s second driver, Max Verstappen was 8th but gave up the fast lap. Showlin described what their drivers were doing on the first day of the weekend in Austin. They had a good pace in the first session when it comes to one fast lap, but that changed in the second practice.
“The first session was very good in terms of one round; both cars had a good grip on soft tires, and the balance was in a good place, ”explains Shovlin. "The track is quite uneven, which causes problems in a few corners, but it's not as different from previous years and it's certainly not as bad as we feared."
"The second session did not look so strong. It was easy to overheat the tires and that made it harder to be constant. Lewis had a cleared lap making us look more competitive, but nonetheless, it seemed like we were losing pace, ”he added.
“It could come down to a number of things; we may not have adapted well to warmer conditions, others may have improved, or some of our changes may not have worked as expected. ”
The racing director of Silver Arrows added that it is useful to discover some of the problems to fix them, but also assures that there will be a very close fight for pole position with both strong Red Bull drivers.
"It's helpful to discover a few problems we can get stuck in tonight because we have a lot we can do to improve." "But the general feeling from the second session is that it will be very close ahead, and both Red Bulls look like they are fighting for pole position," Shovlin concluded.
It is obvious that things will go as before, Mercedes and Red Bull will have the main word and the question is who will have the advantage this time. Of course, both teams are too strong and unpredictable, and the little things could change everything.