Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, home of the Formula One Mexican Grand Prix - Image via McLaren
Formula One returns to Mexico this weekend to host the first Mexican Grand Prix since 1992, when Nigel Mansell drove to victory behind the wheel of a Williams. The first Mexican race was held in 1963 and the event would remain a fixture on the F1 calendar for the next seven years. After a lengthy hiatus, the Mexican Grand Prix returned to the calendar in 1986 and a further six races were held until F1 once again left the country.
Now it’s back, and once again the Mexican Grand Prix is being held at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, a high-speed track located in Mexico City and sitting at an altitude of 7,500 feet. Since the last race in ’92, the track has been revised under the guidance of German race track architect Hermann Tilke and includes a new pit lane and facilities.
The layout is an interesting one, with long straights but almost exclusively low-apex-speed corners. Top speeds will be amongst the highest of the season—despite more downforce being required than at Monza, for example. This is aided by the altitude of the track, which reduces drag effect. The low air density will also make cooling a challenge, and also means the turbocharger compressor must work harder in order to deliver equivalent power output to sea level.
With a freshly laid track surface also to consider, it will be interesting to see how the cars behave and how the order plays out. With no real data from the track, tire supplier Pirelli has relied instead on computer simulation to prepare for the race and decide which compounds will be most suitable, in this case the medium and soft compounds. Some scattered showers are forecast for Sunday’s race, so perhaps we’ll also see the full wets used.
Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton was awarded the Drivers’ Championship title during last weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, so the chase for the top prize is now over. However, the runner-up position is still up for grabs, with fellow Mercedes man Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel the two drivers in contention.
Hamilton sits on 327 points in the Drivers’ Championship. Vettel is second with 251 and Rosberg third with 247. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes was already handed the title and currently enjoys 574 points versus the 374 of Ferrari and 220 of Williams.
In other F1 news, Lotus, which is likely to return to racing under the Renault banner next year, has confirmed that British driver and last year’s GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer will join Pastor Maldonado at the Enstone-based squad in the new season. He replaces Romain Grosjean who has signed up with the new American effort Haas F1.