Lewis Hamilton fears he will not win his fifth world championship in style after claiming the rampant Red Bull cars will be out of reach in Mexico.
Hamilton toiled to a lowly seventh in practice at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as Max Verstappen completed a practice double.
The 21-year-old Dutchman, who could on Saturday become the youngest pole-sitter in Formula One history, finished more than one second clear of any driver in non-Red Bull machinery.
Hamilton needs to finish only seventh to win the title, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, fourth in practice, must be victorious to take the title fight on to Brazil in a fortnight’stime.
The Mercedes star, 33, wants to win the championship with his 10th victory of an impressive year, but, on the evidence of the opening running here, that would appear a tall order.
“Red Bull seem out of our reach at the moment,” Hamilton said on Friday night. “Ferrari are right there with us, but we’re here to try and compete, so we will do the best we can to have a real race.
“We’ve got some ground to catch up on, so we will go through everything in the debrief on Friday night, and look at all the details to find some answers.”
Another major talking point involving Hamilton this weekend was former champion Jacques Villeneuve claiming the Brit is a much better driver than Michael Schumacher.
Villeneuve made the remarks earlier in the week, saying Hamilton is 'miles better', and as he was in attendance at the practice session yesterday, Sky Sports decided to ask him to explain his comments.
As you can see from the video above, Villeneuve clearly stands by his comments and clearly has no problem sharing his strong opinion on both Hamilton and Schumacher.
One thing is for sure, they are both guaranteed to make the Mount Rushmore of Formula One.
*Odds subject to change, 18+, www.begambleaware.org