Hamilton takes confidence from strong long-run pace in Mexico

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Lewis Hamilton is heading into the remainder of the Mexican Grand Prix weekend full of confidence after enjoying a strong and consistent long-run during second Formula 1 practice on Friday as he closes in on the drivers’ title.

Hamilton needs only a top-five finish in this weekend’s race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to wrap up his fourth F1 drivers’ championship, but was a front-runner throughout Friday, taking second place in both FP1 and FP2.

Despite trailing Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in second practice, Hamilton is pleased with how his day unfolded despite a big spin, taking particular confidence from his pace over the long runs in preparation for Sunday’s race.

“It’s been a good day today,” Hamilton said. “It didn’t really start out great, particularly in the second session with the big spin on my first lap. That really threw off the session and obviously made it a little bit tricky to get the run on the super-soft.

“So I put myself on the back foot. But the single lap and then the long run on the ultra-soft was probably one of the best I’ve ever done. I don’t think I’ve ever done 26 laps that consistent, apart from in the race maybe.

“We got lots of information, the track was feeling better in the second session once the temperature came up. It was great to see all the fans buzzing already today, in the paddock but also in the big grandstands.

“So overall a good day.”

Teammate Valtteri Bottas led the pack through FP1 before fading to sixth place in the afternoon session, but was nevertheless pleased with how his day went.

“First practice was good, I really enjoyed it. It is such a fun circuit to drive because it has quite a low grip, so it is definitely challenging,” Bottas said.

“We made some set-up changes for FP2 which went in the wrong direction. So in the end of the session we went back to the original set-up.

“For some reason I also struggled to get the tires to work in the second session. That’s why it didn’t look as good as the first one.

“But I think it was a positive day overall, I’m looking forward to qualifying.”