Russell described his final lap as “terrible”, while Hamilton had an engine vibration problem that affected his final attempt as he reported experiencing power cuts.
Both Mercedes the cars can benefit from towing Verstappen on the run from the grid to Turn 1, which is one of the longest of the season. At race pace, Mercedes were usually better than they were in qualifying, but it was not easy for team principal Wolff to express his confidence that he had the car to win on Sunday.
“I think there have only been a few times in my entire life when I’ve been confident, and never in Formula 1,” Wolff said. “So I don’t know.
“I’m annoyed that I’m not on pole because that would tick the box, but equally having Max with his top speed advantage behind us would be a challenge tomorrow.
“The start of second and third can be advantageous and I hope we can stick a nose or both noses into Turn 1 and disappear into the distance.
“But it’s definitely going to be challenging.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG, on the grid after qualifying
Photo: Andy Hone / Images of motor sports
Mercedes have three races left to avoid their first winless campaign since 2011 as they struggled to match the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari through most of the season.
Asked if it was Mercedes’ best race win of the year, Wolff said: “Yes, I think so.
“The good thing is that in our simulation we had [Mexico] in some ways on the radar as a better race. So it’s good that it correlates, the virtual world correlates with the real world.
“The most important thing [thing] in that we really have the momentum and we’re slowly but surely moving forward and learning the lessons for next year.”
One of the biggest incentives for Mercedes in Mexico was the high-altitude conditions, which reduced drag levels in thin air and allowed for the use of high-downforce packages.
“Mexico was not a good place for us for many years because of the altitude,” Wolff said. “But [the] the power unit guys really gave us a super powerful engine.
“We’re less affected by our drag car here, while we have a high downforce like everyone else. Overall, it’s been better for us in the past.”