Prixview – Mexican Grand Prix

Features Prixview

Round nineteen takes Formula One to central America and the Mexican capital for the Mexican Grand Prix. Mexico City has held a non-championship race in the centre of the city in the 1960s as it is now the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

The circuit was built in a public park in 1959 and proved teams with unique challenges at 2,240 metres above sea-level it has levelled out the differences the thin air causes difficulties for both the drivers and their cars. This makes Mexico challenge for the cars as there is less oxygen for them.

It also means that there is little difference in terms of engine performance which is surprising when you consider all the cars lose the same amount of performance. The circuit is like Monza, high speed with a tricky stadium section, with V6 hybrid turbo F1 cars managed to reach the top speed in excess of 370 km/h (230 mph) down the main straight.

The first race saw Lotus Jim Clark taking over the car of teammate Trevor Taylor to claim the win; Clark was black-flagged after receiving a push-start at a confused race start.

But was overshadowed by the death in practice by Ricardo Rodriguez, the Mexican crashed through the Peraltada following a suspension failure and was killed instantly. Jim Clark took victory, the following season saw the Scott take on Englishmen John Surtees and Graham Hill for the drivers’ championship.

There respective Ferrari, BRM and Lotus were in contention for the Constructors’ Championship. Ferrari signalled Lorenzo Bandini to let teammate Surtees through, which he did, and Surtees finished second behind Gurney to win the championship by one point; Ferrari won the Constructors’ Championship.

In 1970, a record crowd of approximately 200,000 arrived to see Pedro Rodríguez, forcing officials to delay the race start by an hour. They struggled to control the crowd and at one point a dog ran across the track and was hit by Stewart. That spelt the end of racing until 1986.

Formula One returned to Mexico in 1986, that race was won by Gerhard Berger his first race won. The following season, Derek Warwick crashed heavily at the Peraltada. The corner which the circuit was known for has now been removed, when the sport returned to Mexico City in 2015.

1988 became a flashpoint in the rivalry between McLaren teammates Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost who won in 1989 and 1988 respectively. The turn of the decade saw Prost come from thirteenth to second, while Senna retired with a suspension failure.

1991 saw Senna crash heavily at the Peraltada during practice; he was declared fit to race by FIA doctor Sid Watkins; he finished third behind Williams drivers Riccardo Patrese and Mansell.

Mexico returned to the calendar in 2015, in an era of Mercedes dominance they have won two of the four races. Nico Rosberg’s win in 2015 after Lewis Hamilton sealed the title was arguably the foundation for his 2016 title. But Mexico has been the place where Hamilton wrapped up his last two titles, can he do the same this year? And can they stop Red Bull from a third win back to back in Mexico.

Facts and figures

 

Round 18 of 21
Race Formula 1 Gran Premio de Mexico 2019
Venue 2015 Grand Prix Circuit, Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City, Mexico
Circuit Length 4.304 km (2.674 mi)
Laps 71
Race Distance 305.354 km (189.738 mi)
Lap Record 01:18.741 (Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 2018, FIA Formula One)
Most wins drivers Jim Clark (4)
Most wins manufacture Lotus (4)

Fast facts

  • At 2,240 meters above sea level, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is by far the highest track on the current F1 calendar. Next highest is Brazil at 765 metres. At the other end of the scale, Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi and the Sochi Autodrom are both less than 1 metre above sea level.
  • Lewis Hamilton is the only driver to have won the title at the Mexican Grand Prix twice, having done so in both of the last two seasons. John Surtees, Denny Hulme and Graham Hill are the other drivers to have taken title victories at the circuit.
  • In 2018, Max Verstappen became the first driver to win the Mexican Grand Prix in consecutive years.
  • Sergio Pérez, who has been competing in Formula 1 since 2011, is the only Mexican driver on the current F1 grid. He has finished in the points in all three races since Mexico returned to the F1 calendar, with a best result of seventh in 2017.
  • Like Barcelona, Montreal and Sochi, the circuit was part of an Olympic and Paralympic Games in 1968.

Title permeations

Lewis Hamilton needs to finish the weekend seventy-eight points ahead of Valtteri Bottas that means he must increase his current 73-point advantage by five points or more over in Mexico. Seventy-eight points would be enough after Mexico to do it because he wins any tie-breaker because he has more race wins

Event timetable

Session

Local

BST/GMT

Friday

P1 10:00-11:30 16:00-17:30
P2 14:00-15:30 20:00-21:30

Saturday

P3 10:00-11:00 16:00-17:00
Qualifying 13:00-14:00 19:00-20:00

Sunday

Clocks go back one hour in Mexico and Europe

Race 13:10 19:10

What happened in 2018?

Red Bull was strong in qualifying in Mexico City, with Daniel Ricciardo denying Max Verstappen the chance to be the youngest pole-sitter in the history of the sport by two-hundredths of a second. The team went into the weekend expecting a strong performance, which delivered the team their first front row lockout since 2013.

The race proved once again to be a three-team fight, Verstappen made the better start getting passed Ricciardo followed by Lewis Hamilton. Where it remained until the midpoint of the race, Hamilton was under pressure from Sebastian Vettel, but he knew that the best thing to do was to allow him to pass.

All Hamilton needed was Vettel to finish second and him finish fifth to seal a fifth world title. Vettel’s hopes were dying by the sector as the Ferrari was struggling to keep pace with the Red Bull. Hamilton was driving calmly in fourth and with Vettel stuck behind Verstappen it would see him become champion.

It was another example of how Hamilton had performed in 2018, just delivering what was required and getting the most out of the car. Ricciardo’s luck in 2018 wasn’t about to change, he stopped on track as smoke pouring from his Red Bull, following another engine failure giving him his eighth retirement of the season.

Verstappen had no concerns, he went onto victory holding off Vettel and that was enough to see the title decided with Hamilton fifth he was the 2018 Formula One World Champion and Vettel’s second place saw him seal the runner up spot.

Mexico had summed up the season, Hamilton maximising the results on weekends where Mercedes weren’t as strong as Ferrari, while Vettel had failed and made mistakes making him unable to capitalise on Mercedes weak weekends.

But, Mercedes were able to get the most of the car when it hadn’t been performing to the best of its abilities and coupled with Hamilton they once again proved unstoppable.

Race Result – 1) M. Verstappen, Red Bull – Tag Heuer, 01:38:28.851, 2) S. Vettel, Ferrari, +17.316, 3) K. Raikkonen, Ferrari, +49.914

What to watch for?

Mexico City is a race which is at high altitude which means engine performance should not be an issue this weekend. This is surprising considering that it’s a very similar layout to Monza, it remains high speed and downforce. Red Bull have been surprisingly good here in recent years because of the altitude which offsets engine deficits.

The slipstream is powerful as you have the long straights between turn seventeen and one, aided by DRS turn one is good for overtaking, but the chicane can cause accidents as well as the second chicane. Grid position isn’t really important because of the overtaking opportunities around here.

The story of this weekend will be whether Lewis Hamilton can wrap up the title this weekend. Mercedes have only won two races since the summer break they have had a strong race in Suzuka, I think that helps as it is a similar middle sector to the one in Japan. But Ferrari will be in the mix, Red Bull as well.

The race is one where the midfield will be close, we have seen in recent races the battle between McLaren and Renault. The battle for fourth is worth a lot to the teams and that will make a difference next year, Renault really needs a good race to fight back against McLaren in the championship.

2017 vs 2018 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2018

01:16.656 01:16.720 01:16.284 01:15.580 01:15.640 01:14.759 01:38:28.851 01:18.741

Diff

-1.232 -1.081 -0.829 -1.938 -0.884 -1.729 -02:02.299 -0.044

2017

01:17.824 01:17.801 01:17.113 01:17.518 01:16.524 01:16.488 01:36:26.552 01:18.785

Tyres

Driver

Team

White Hard (C1)

Yellow Medium (C2)

Red Soft (C3)

L. Hamilton

Mercedes 1 5 7
V. Bottas 2 4

7

S. Vettel

Ferrari 1 5 7
C. Leclerc 1 4

9

M. Verstappen

Red Bull – Honda 1 3 9
A. Albon 1 3

9

D. Riccardo

Renault 2 1 9
N. Hulkenberg 1 3

9

K. Magnussen

Haas – Ferrari 1 3 9
R. Grosjean 1 3

9

C. Sainz Jr

McLaren – Renault 2 3 9
L. Norris 2 3

9

S. Perez

Racing Point –Mercedes 2 3 9
L. Stroll 2 3

9

K. Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo – Ferrari 2 3 8
A. Giovinazzi 1 4

8

D. Kvyat

Toro Rosso –Honda 2 4 7
P. Gaslyn 1 5

7

G. Russell

Williams –Mercedes 1 3 9
R. Kubica 2 2

9

 

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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