Last week we had one of the best races of the season so far in Austin. After a chaotic Friday and Saturday due to the adverse climate, finally the weather gave us a break for the race and we could see a huge range of strategies that made for a memorable race. This weekend is the time for the new Mexican GP of 2015. The track is not completely new but none of the drivers of the grid have raced there before. The weather forecast says it could rain again during qualifying and race, so we may find ourselves watching another great race on Sunday.
The circuit was built in 1959. It was used in F1 from 1962 to 1970, when a person of the public died in an accident. During those years, the circuit had the name “Magdalena Mixhuca”. Later on, the track was called “Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez” in tribute to the Rodríguez brothers, Pedro and Ricardo, considered the best Mexican drivers in the sixties.
The race in 1962 was not puntuable for the championship and one of the brothers, Ricardo, was killed in an accident during practice. The causes are not clear till date. In 1986, it appeared again on the calendar as long as some safety renewals were made; a new profile at Turn 1 and a shortened hairpin section. The race was held until 1992.
In 2012 it was decided that the circuit will hold again the F1 GP in 2013, but a return of the race was delayed until 2015. The main straight has been extended and re-profiled. The turns between 7 and 13 were modified; some of the different radius corners have been replaced with fixed angle ones. The entrance to the last corner, the “peraltada”, was changed into a low speed left-right chicane.
The circuit nowadays
The surface of the track is very bumpy because Mexico is located in a geologically active region. Moreover, the circuit is at 2,285m above the sea level, causing a decrease of power in the engines and also a lack of breathing to the drivers.
The track is 4,304 km long and drivers will complete 71 laps to over a total distance of 305,354 km. After a long main straight, where the speed can get to 340km/h, there comes a right-left-right, fast chicane followed by another straight with speeds up to 320 km/h, containing the second DRS activation point. Heavy braking point at the end, before taking corner number 4, a 90º one to the left, to start the Sector 2.
Right after that turn, drivers find another 90º corner to the right, a very short straight ending in turn 6, a hairpin to the right. Drivers will brake until 75 km/h. Here, another short straight just before the “S” section, from corners 7 to 11. Turn 7, 8 and 9 form a very soft left-right-left chicane. This is a fast section, the average speed is about 200 km/h. Turns 10 and 11 are very slight too, but a little bit slower.
Now drivers find another straight, where Sector 3 starts, which ends in a tight corner to the right followed by a short straight and a little hairpin to the left. Turn 14 is a medium speed corner to the right, giving start to a short straight divided by an almost inexistent turn 15 and ending in turn 16, a tight one to the right before entering in the “peraltada”, the last corner of the circuit; a very fast one before getting again to the main straight were the DRS use is allowed.
Drivers like Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and many others won the Mexican GP back in the day. Now we arrive here with Lewis Hamilton being already crowned the 2015 world champion but, for sure, wanting to add Mexico to his victory trophies. The tightest battle is now between Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel for the second place.
Tires and technical requirements
By the moment, teams only have information about the track on the basis of the simulator. Pirelli has to do their track surface analysis and inform the teams. They have chosen medium and soft compounds, a relatively conservative choice, to provide traction out of the slow corners, and resistance through some of the faster ones. It’s a new track surface so teams expect the surface to be slippery and with low grip even when dry. The less dense air due to the altitude provides less downforce and we could see some very high speeds along the start-finish straight. Less dense air also means you can’t cool everything you want to be cooled so heat problems could occur.
The local driver Sergio Pérez commented: “I had the chance to drive a lap of the new track layout recently and it’s a fantastic circuit.There are quite a few changes compared to the old layout when Formula One last raced there, but I don't think the circuit has lost any of its character. The new section in the stadium is spectacular and it will be such an incredible emotion to drive through there for the first time when it’s full of fans. There are a lot of fast sections, but at the same time you have a combination of fast, slow and medium-speed corners that make for a very varied lap.
I am also happy to see the final corner has been named after Nigel Mansell. He is a hero to motorsport fans in Mexico and I admire all he has achieved. Nigel won the last race in Mexico in 1992 and produced one of the greatest overtakes of all times there, so it is right that he has been honoured in this way.”
We are ready for an amazing racing weekend in the “Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez”. Lights are almost on.
Local race times
FP1 Fri 10:00 – 11:30
FP2 Fri 14:00 – 15:30
FP3 Sat 10:00 – 11:00
Quali Sat 13:00 – 14:00
Race Sun 13:00 – 15:00
by Cristina DeLarge