Lewis Hamilton handed boost as Mercedes expecting to challenge for victory in Brazil

Mercedes dominated virtually every session at the Mexican Grand Prix, other than Q3 and the race.

There is no doubt that Mercedes are getting closer to victory; however, it does appear to have come too little too late in regard to 2022, with the side presumably hoping that they will start next season on a much better foot.

Given that a lot of the season has seen the Silver Arrows ending races over 30 seconds behind the victory, usually Max Verstappen, it is incredible to see Lewis Hamilton having come so close to victory at the last two races.

Whilst Verstappen won last weekend in Mexico by over 15 seconds, Mercedes were right on pace with Red Bull and really only a tenth or two slower than in the United States.

It is a sign of clear progression for the side who dominated the Constructors’ Championship from 2014-2021, with the side’s recent aero upgrade having proved to be one of the key missing pieces on the W13.

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Mercedes strategy director James Vowles spoke very highly of his side following the Mexican GP, where he explained why the Germans were strong in Mexico City.

“I think there are a few factors that came together at the same time,” Vowles explained in Mercedes’ post-race debrief on YouTube.

“The first is that we put a large update kit on in Austin and that did move us forward, and that evidence was even more present really in Mexico.

“The second is that we are very good when we are running maximum downforce and others running maximum downforce as well, and that was evident in Zandvoort, in Budapest for example, and it was no different in Mexico.

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“In Mexico everyone really was running their maximum rear wing, their maximum amount of downforce that they could get away with.

“I think also Austin being a very tricky windy conditioned race meant that perhaps we didn’t see the full extent of the performance update, whereas in Mexico there was no real wind to speak of. We have a car now that seems to be balanced and is working well.”

The final two races of the year in Brazil and Abu Dhabi are expected to be much harder for Mercedes and considerably better for Ferrari, whose lead over the Germans was cut to 40 points in Mexico.

Vowles thinks that Ferrari will be “very close” to the Brackley-based team in the final two races, but that Red Bull “still hold the edge”.

“How it performs across the next two is hard to tell, obviously in the case of Mexico it looked a little bit like that Ferrari actually dropped back, and I suspect that won’t be the case as we move forwards,” he added.

“I think this will really vary track on track. Ferrari won’t be that far back and away from us as they were in Mexico. They will be closer in Brazil and in Abu Dhabi, and it will be a very close fight between our two teams.

“In terms of relative to Red Bull, they still hold the edge relative to us. I don’t think it is quite the three tenths they out-qualified us by, but it will be a few tenths across the next few races.”

Despite the team not expecting next weekend’s race at Interlagos to be a strong one for the side, there is still the feeling in the air that they can win, given that they are undoubtedly getting “closer and closer” to a first win of 2022.

With two races left, it can be guaranteed that Hamilton and George Russell will be going all out for victory, to take as much momentum into next year as possible.

“We are getting closer and closer, compared to where we were at the beginning of the season, where at times we were struggling to get out of Q1 or into Q3, to where we are now which is we are within a whisker of fighting for our first win,” Vowles said.

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“We have moved forward.

“In Brazil, it’s a track that both of our drivers have typically gone well at, and there’s a sprint race where we can pick up more points.

“And when you have a car within a few tenths of your competition, you can make things happen.”