George Russell has praised Mercedes for what he felt was their strongest Friday running of the 2022 F1 season so far.
After sitting out Free Practice 1 to allow Nyck de Vries to take the wheel, Russell returned to action in FP2 in a session that was extended by 30 minutes to allow Pirelli to test their 2023 tyres.
Those drivers who missed FP1 were allowed 45 minutes to focus on their own running before switching attention to the Pirelli test, and it was Russell who ended FP2 at the top of the timesheets with a lap time of 1:19.970 on the Soft compound.
With the Silver Arrows having endured mixed fortunes throughout the campaign, Russell was pleased with their performance at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, though acknowledged that their fortunes could change during the remainder of the weekend.
Russell hails Mercedes' Friday pace at Mexican GP
"Today was one of our better Fridays, if not the best of the year so far – the car is working well and it felt good driving on this track," Russell said after FP2.
"The pace was relatively strong, but we know the challenges at this circuit. For qualifying, the difficulty will be to get the tyres in the right window for the single lap run.
"And on Sunday, it will be difficult to manage temperatures for the engine and for the brakes."
Despite the potential challenges ahead, Russell has set the goal of a top three finish in Mexico.
"A podium finish should hopefully be possible for us this weekend, so that's what we will be aiming for," the Briton added.
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Why Russell does not expect a 'straightforward weekend'
Russell admits that the change to the usual format in FP2 creates more uncertainty over where Mercedes stand against their rivals.
"Not having the normal FP2 running, where we get to assess the long run performance of our rivals, doesn't allow us to understand where our competitors are and that can become a big challenge if we will struggle with tyre temperatures during the race," the 24-year-old said.
"We take some very useful learnings about tyre temperature management for next year and will be working hard overnight as it's not going to be a straightforward weekend for sure, but positive learnings for us today."
Russell remains in a battle with Carlos Sainz for P4 in the World Championship, while Mercedes hold third place in the Constructors' standings.
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