Sebastian Vettel already faced a near-impossible task if he hoped to continue his championship fight with Lewis Hamilton. But after Friday practice in Mexico the odds seem even slimmer.

The Ferrari driver, and indeed the rest of the field, have some catching up to do after Red Bull drivers turned laps over a second quicker than the rest of the pack.

The math is considerably simpler than it was last week at the Circuit of the Americas. Vettel must win the race, or he is out of the championship fight no matter where Lewis Hamilton finishes. The problem facing him however is not a silver car, but the two cars of his former team Red Bull.

In 2017, Max Verstappen took a comfortable win in at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez after passing Vettel into turn one. Vettel looked like a defeated man in his post-session interview Friday.

“I think it’s the track with the least sensitivity on power, so I think it’s been expected that the Red Bulls would be very strong,” said Vettel. “I don’t think we had a tidy lap, so we should have been in front of the Renault’s.

“I think everybody’s on the limit with tires and trying to get them to work in order to slide less with the exception maybe of the Red Bulls.”

Vettel’s former team boss at Red Bull, Christian Horner had some sympathy for the German but rightly says that his focus has to be on the cars and drivers that he currently runs, not his former star driver.

“I mean, he’s had a rough time recently,” said Horner of Vettel, a driver with whom he won four back-to-back drivers and constructors’ championship doubles between 2010 and 2013. “It’s been a torrid time for him really since the summer break but he’s not in our car so I just want to see two Red Bulls up there and two Red Bulls at the finish this weekend. That’s what’s so vital for us and we haven’t had a double podium all year and if we can get both driver on the podium here it would be very much a dream come true.”

Source: Autoweek

October 26, 2018