Valtteri Bottas has given Mercedes fans hope that Red Bull may not have things all their own way at the Mexican Grand Prix.
Even though Mercedes have won three times at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, compared to Red Bull’s two victories there during the turbo hybrid era, the venue is still seen as Red Bull territory.
That is because the Red Bull car and Honda engine are seemingly better equipped to deal with the high altitude conditions in Mexico City, whilst rivals Mercedes have lagged behind in that regard.
However, despite a strong expectation that this year’s Mexican Grand Prix is Red Bull’s to lose, Bottas thinks Mercedes have learned lessons from races past at the unique circuit and will arrive with an engine that is more optimised for the conditions ahead.
“For Mexico, we know it’s usually been a bit of a weakness for us and it feels like quite a big chunk has been in the recent years from the power unit, with the high altitude,” said Bottas.
“But I think we’ve been able to optimise a lot since, so I would expect us to be in a better place than in the recent years.
“Still, on paper, we think they’re really strong places for Red Bull and we’ve just really tried to do all the learnings we can from previous years and prepare the best that way.
“They’re not going to be easy weekends, but it’s never easy in this sport.”
Bottas has picked up a new nickname in recent weeks, labelled ‘The ICEman’ due to the rapid rate in which Mercedes are fitting new internal combustion engines to his car.
With three grid penalties in his last four races due to engine parts being changed, Bottas is now hopeful that his grid drops are now fully behind him.
It's Race Week 🙌 @MercedesAMGF1 are headed to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez 🚥
Did you know that @ValtteriBottas holds the current #MexicanGP lap record at 1:18,741 minutes since 2018? 😎💙#WeLivePerformance #MercedesAMG #MercedesAMGF1 pic.twitter.com/1uoHyr6AX1
— Mercedes-AMG Motorsport (@amgmotorsport) November 1, 2021
Mercedes, meanwhile, have not detected any issues with Bottas’ engine since fitting it with sixth ICE element.
“One failure to finish a race be at because of a chassis or power unit fault would be catastrophic for the championship,” warned Mercedes’ chief strategist James Vowles.
“And as a result of that, we are managing that in the best way possible to the end of the year and in the case of Valtteri, that meant taking one further ICE to make sure we had absolutely the best compromise.
“As to whether it improved his performance, yes, a small amount but it is more about the balance across the remainder of the season than one event.
“So, this change, as painful as it was during the Austin Grand Prix, will actually pay dividends across the next few races.”
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