Mexican Grand Prix preview

Formula One last raced in Mexico in 1992. After several stuttering attempts to revive the race, F1 returns to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez this weekend.

The track layout has been significantly revised, some will say diluted, by Hermann Tilke. The flowing sequence of corners that made up the the second third of the lap is very different, most of the corners made much sharper and two removed altogether.

Perhaps most controversially, the fearsome Peraltada, an ultra-long constant radius right-hander leading onto the start straight, has been cut in half by a tricky little infield section.

Even so, Force India’s local hero Sergio Perez is full of praise, telling F1.com: “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 drivers face bigger challenges than learning a new circuit, though. The track surface is brand and will be constantly evolving over the course of the weekend, which will make finding the right set-up tricky. And the circuit’s 7,000ft altitude will but extra stress on both the cars and drivers, as they contend will oxygen levels 78% of those at sea level.

Even so, the race is expected to be one of the fastest of the year, with top speeds approaching 210mph and a lap of around 1min 15secs.

Lewis Hamilton won an unpredictable race last time out in the US Grand Prix, the treacherous conditions on a slow-drying track producing one of the most entertaining races in years. Hamilton battled hard to take the win and sealed his third world championship crown.

While Hamilton was quite literally jumping for joy, second-placed Nico Rosberg was absolutely furious, throwing his podium cap at Hamilton and refusing to take part in the champagne celebrations. Everyone instantly assumed a new rift had opened up between Rosberg and teammate Hamilton, after the Brit made a robust pass at the start of the race that pushed Rosberg wide and down to fourth.

In the week since, Mercedes team officials have explained Rosberg’s anger was over his own mistake later in the race, apparently caused by a gust of wind, which handed Hamilton the lead.

Despite having wrapped up both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told the BBC they are still targeting wins. “We will enter those [remaining] races with same approach we have had in the past,” he said. “We need to keep the tension in the situation and not relax. It is about winning races.”

With ten wins already this season and three races remaining, Hamilton could match the record of 13 wins in a season currently held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. With nothing else to aim for this year, he’ll certainly try.

Focus will now switch to the battle for second in the championship between Vettel and Rosberg, currently separated by just four points. It’s a tough one to call, especially as the improvement in Vettel’s Ferrari is hard to gauge. He surged through the from 14th on the grid to finish third in America, but his progress was undoubtedly aided by the conditions and the rate of attrition. We shall see.

The Mexican Grand Prix takes place on Sunday 1 November.

Drivers’ Championship standings after 16 races

  1. Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — 327 points
  2. Sebastian Vettel — Ferrari — 251
  3. Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — 247
  4. Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — 123
  5. Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — 111
  6. Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — 109
  7. Daniil Kvyat — Red Bull-Renault — 76
  8. Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — 74
  9. Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — 64
  10. Max Verstappen — Toro Rosso-Renault — 45
  11. Romain Grosjean — Lotus-Mercedes — 44
  12. Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — 38
  13. Felipe Nasr — Sauber-Ferrari — 27
  14. Pastor Maldonado — Lotus-Mercedes — 26
  15. Carlos Sainz Jr. — Toro Rosso-Renault — 18
  16. Jenson Button — McLaren-Honda — 16
  17. Fernando Alonso — McLaren-Honda — 11
  18. Marcus Ericsson — Sauber-Ferrari — 9
  19. Roberto Merhi — Marussia-Ferrari – 0
  20. Alexander Rossi — Marussia-Ferrari – 0
  21. Will Stevens — Marussia-Ferrari – 0

Manufacturers’ Championship standings after 16 races

  1. Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team — 574 points
  2. Scuderia Ferrari — 374
  3. Williams Martini Racing — 220
  4. Infiniti Red Bull Racing — 150
  5. Sahara Force India F1 Team — 102
  6. Lotus F1 Team — 70
  7. Scuderia Toro Rosso — 63
  8. Sauber F1 Team — 36
  9. McLaren Honda — 27
  10. Manor Marussia F1 Team — 0

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By Only Motors

 

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