Formula 1 makes a long overdue return to the revised Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit after a 23-year absence for this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
|Formula 1 Gran Premio de México 2015|
|Date||30 Oct – 02 Nov 2015||Lap Length||4.304km|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:00-11:30||Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:00-15:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 10:00-11:00||Qualifying||Sat 13:00-14:00|
|Race (71 laps)||Sun 13:00-15:00||2014 Winner||N/A|
Session times quoted in Central Standard Time (GMT – 06:00)
The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is not a new venue for Formula 1 but a 23-year absence, combined with extensive circuit changes, means that the entire field will be starting from scratch in Mexico City.
The 4.3-kilometre layout features a long main straight that concludes with a tight chicane – expect some contact on the opening lap – before another DRS-zone straight that leads into a slower complex of corners.
The cars will then build pace through the series of reprofiled Esses before the track’s most significant change. Gone is the terrifying, slightly-banked 180º Peraltada – in its place is a rather clumsy slow sequence through a stadium which then feeds onto the final corner.
One notable aspect of racing in Mexico City is its incredibly high altitude. At 2,500 metres above sea level, the lack of oxygen (22 per cent less than what is at sea level) will place enormous strain on the cars and drivers. The comparative lack of usable oxygen will mean the turbo has to spin faster to compensate for the lack of usable air entering the engine, while the car’s aerodynamics will be much less effective. How the teams arrive at a trade-off of reliability against performance will be one of the most fascinating talking points of the weekend.
The Form Guide
This is the first weekend where the pressure is completely off the Mercedes AMG Petronas team, having successfully wrapped up the Drivers’ Championship title for Lewis Hamilton at last weekend’s United States Grand Prix and sewn up back-to-back Constructors’ titles at the race before in Russia.
Its sole remaining focus will be on seeing out the season and trying to secure a 1-2 in the Drivers’ Championship standings, with Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg sitting in third place, four points behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton has already stoked the embers of a fiery weekend between the two in Texas – Rosberg accused Hamilton of being too forceful in trying to wrestle the lead from him at the start – by indicating that he won’t help Rosberg’s quest for the runner-up spot, and there’s clearly very little love lost between the pair.
Hamilton will be out to try and equal Michael Schumacher’s 2004 record of 13 wins in a single season, and he will need to keep his run of victories alive in order to achieve the feat.
Fellow Mercedes runners Williams are, in effect, the defending race-winners of the Mexican Grand Prix after claiming a dominant 1-2 finish when the series last visited the country in 1992. The team is a safe third in the Constructors’ Championship standings, but will be frustrated that it couldn’t keep its slim hopes of challenging Ferrari alive following a disastrous weekend at the Circuit of the Americas.
While the circuit layout should suit this year’s FW37, it has proven to be rather ordinary when there’s been a hint of moisture. The bad news is that the weather forecasters are predicting thunderstorms throughout Saturday and Sunday…
All eyes will be on the Force India of Sergio Pérez, who will be racing on home soil and keen to impress in front of his fans. With five points’ finishes in his last six outings – including a fine podium finish in Russia – Pérez has been one of the standout performers in the back half of the season, particularly since the team’s launch of its updated B-spec VJM08 at the British Grand Prix. Just three drivers have scored more points than him since the summer break; he really could be a dark horse for a top-three finish this weekend.
Image via XPB Images