It was a positive Friday for the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team in Mexico City after completing a range of test items during two busy practice sessions.
The team concluded its 2022 FP1 young driver allocation today, with Nyck de Vries driving for George Russell and finishing P18 after running a single hard tyre and completing test work for 2023.
Another extended FP2 session with 90 minutes running to test the 2023 tyres, saw Russell finish in P1 and Lewis Hamilton in P4.
The W13 showed promising initial performance, although the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez continues to provide challenges for car cooling because of the low air density at high altitude.
‘Today was one of our better Fridays, if not the best of the year so far – the car is working well and it felt good driving on this track. The pace was relatively strong, but we know the challenges at this circuit. For qualifying, the difficulty will be to get the tyres in the right window for the single lap run. And on Sunday, it will be difficult to manage temperatures for the engine and for the brakes. A podium finish should hopefully be possible for us this weekend, so that’s what we will be aiming for. Not having the normal FP2 running, where we get to assess the long run performance of our rivals, doesn’t allow us to understand where our competitors are and that can become a big challenge if we will struggle with tyre temperatures during the race. We take some very useful learnings about tyre temperature management for next year and will be working hard overnight as it’s not going to be a straightforward weekend for sure, but positive learnings for us today.’
‘I had a good session today, so generally feel good about our performance so far. I really enjoyed driving around the track, because the car is feeling better and better as we learn to understand it in more detail. The tyre test in FP2 we used to get as much practice in as possible. I don’t know yet where exactly we stand compared to other teams, because everyone was running different programmes and I try to mainly focus on my own programme. The 2023 tyres seem very similar to the current ones, maybe a little bit more consistent on the long runs and easier to manage in terms of overheating. Of course, we will do plenty of work tonight, to see if we can compete with the front, but you never know with this car how the rest of the weekend will go, but I hope we are able to continue to build on our positive conclusion from today.’
Nyck de Vries
‘I enjoyed the session and driving the car, we did a good job in FP1. We ran a bit of a different programme today, focused on developments for next year and I’m happy with my performance, feeling more and more comfortable in the F1 environment. It was also a very emotional session for me, as it marks the end of my time in the car for the team. But I’m happy, as we ended it well and we had a great time working together. I’m grateful for the opportunity Mercedes has given me, allowing me to learn a lot and build relationships within the team and now I’m looking forward to the next chapter.’
‘We had a bit of a messy first session as we were bumping into a few limits on system temperatures, but we managed to get that much better under control in the second session. Nyck was driving in place of George for the first session. The programme was never going to flatter him as we were only running the hard tyre and working through a sequence of test items, but he did another very solid job. That finishes off his planned driving duties for our team and we are looking forward to seeing him race next year. The second session was focused on the 2023 tyres, although the regulations allowed George to do a few laps on medium and soft compounds. From what we can tell the car is working well on both single lap and long run. The balance isn’t perfect so we’ve got areas to work on overnight, but a reasonable start at what is normally a very challenging circuit.’