World championship leader Nico Rosberg wound up third in Friday’s second free practice at the Mexican Grand Prix and said he faced “a lot of homework to do” to improve his performance on Saturday.
The German was four-tenths of a second off the pace set by fastest man Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari and his Mercedes teammate defending three-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
“It’s been an unusual day out there,” said Rosberg, who is 26 points clear of Hamilton with three races remaining. “The low temperatures and a very green track.
“So, its been a bit of a steep learning curve to understand what to do with the tyres –- how to get the best out of them and also the long runs.
“We really learned a lot and its not been a bad start overall, but we have a lot of homework to do tonight.
“The car was feeling okay on the medium tyre, but even there, we need to make some progress to understand where we can find some more performance.
“Ferrari are quick here and they look like a bit threat, but let’s see how it goes tomorrow.”
Hamilton said he was enthused by the big and enthusiastic Mexican crowds and he had a solid day in terms of race preparation.
“The cars are faster, but our lap times are pretty strong already. The track feels better to me than it did last year and I feel a lot more comfortable in the car so I hope I can carry that right through the weekend.”
Hamilton was fastest ahead of Vettel in Friday morning’s opening practice session and knows he has to repeat his victory in last Sunday’s United States Grand Prix to keep his title challenge alive.