Red Bull in front as Lewis Hamilton closes in on title

Vettel and Lewis show mutual respect

Sebastian Vettel

Lewis Hamilton said he felt Max Verstappen and Red Bull were "out of our reach" after he wound up only seventh fastest in second practice Friday for this weekend's Mexican Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel must take the chequered flag to stand any chance of denying Hamilton the title, but he failed to trouble the top of the order here.

"The grid has the potential for carnage on the straight and through the first corners, because you have the two Red Bulls who have the least straight-line speed on the front row, and then it's us and then the Ferraris are obviously nearly 10kph up on everyone else", said Wolff (pictured above, middle, with technical director James Allison, left, and chief race engineer Andy Shovlin). "It's been well executed, we just need to convert it [into a win]".

"I still wasn't convinced it was the cleanest lap, but I've got to relax a little".

"I knew putting the lap together would be crucial as always, and Max showed the pace was in the auto all weekend".

It was a similar story in FP2, with Verstappen - the race victor in Mexico a year ago - going quickest with a time of one minute and 16.720 seconds ahead of Ricciardo.

"The whole qualifying was crap", the Dutchman said. "We tried to make the best of it, I thought we had enough but it's still good to be second".

Verstappen, 21, had dominated all weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but he was beaten in the dying moments by Ricciardo, the Australian claiming his first pole at a track other than Monaco and only the third of his career.

Behind the Red Bulls all eyes will be on the title contenders, with Hamilton in the stronger position after a hard few days for Mercedes.

"I'm really, really happy with it", said Hamilton.

In recent weeks, Ricciardo has been beset with a raft of vehicle issues, with his early retirement from last weekend's U.S. Grand Prix leading Horner to question why Renault was continuing to allow his run of reliability issues given his imminent move from Red Bull in 2019. "You get a nice tow from the guys up ahead so naturally I'm going to be fighting to at least gain a position but of course I'm aware of the Bulls ahead".

He needs only to finish seventh to win a title that would match him with the late Juan Manuel Fangio for second-most in F1 history.

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