We’ve got 3 races to go on the Formula One calendar, with both drivers’ and constructors’ championships now done and dusted, and F1 moves south for the Mexican Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, named for racing brothers Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez, who both died behind the wheel within a decade of each other.
This is the first time a Formula One race has been held at the circuit in 23 years, despite the fact that there have been other races held at the track in the interim, NASCAR and the A1 Grand Prix series among them.
First instituted in 1962, it was held here with the circuit in one of its previous iterations – the Magdalena Mixhuca Circuit, the first ever international circuit in the country. Though it was on the F1 calendar, it wasn’t a championship event, although it would become one a year later and hold that honour for the following 7 years. Held again from 1986 to 1992, it was also a championship event then.
The last ever podium prior to this year had some now-iconic names atop it – British World Champion Nigel Mansell, who won the race from pole, Riccardo Patrese, and only a seven-time World Champion – Michael Schumacher – in third.
British teams and constructors have been by far the most successful at the track – the legendary Jim Clark took 3 victories at the track, with his one-time team Lotus winning the championship a record 4 times – two times in a row, twice.
Both historical teams that have found success at Hermanos Rodriguez, McLaren and Lotus, are now languishing near the back of the grid with engine and financial issues.
Ahead of the circuit’s F1 return this year, famed F1 track designer Hermann Tilke spearheaded a complete overhaul.
Following Tilke’s redesign, several aspects of the track underwent a drastic transformation. Turns 7 through 13, which wound quickly and sharply, similar to Silverstone’s Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel, were straightened out.
They are now angular turns separated by straights, with the end stretch – which houses a baseball diamond , built there in 1992, is within the peraltada curve. Slightly similar to Parabolica at Monza, peraltada instead is banked – this means that cars can go at higher speeds at the final turn, just before the finish straight.
At 4.484km, it is the second shortest track on the current Formula One calendar after the Circuit de Monaco, which hosts the Monaco Grand Prix and is 3.337km long.
Race organisers say average lap times should be around 1minute 15seconds and speeds at approximately 330km/hr with Formula One’s current engines.
The track is at a high altitude, too – 7,500ft, and the rarefied air may cause drivers some issues moving through the high-speed track.
With the constructors’ championship decided at Sochi and the drivers’ at the Circuit of the Americas – going to Mercedes and their driver Lewis Hamilton respectively, we will likely see flat-out racing this weekend, with drivers now racing with nothing to lose. Arguably this could also have been the case for most drivers on the grid considering only Hamilton, his teammate Nico Rosberg and 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel were in contention for the title.
Force India have done well on tracks such as this one, and have the added benefit of this being a home race for their driver Sergio Perez.
Our picks to do well this weekend:
Mercedes – the team, with a now 3-time world championship-winnning driver and a car that is significantly superior to all others on the track, are steamrolling their rivals and fresh off both title wins this year, will be on a high that they will look to build on even further.
Force India – good on high speed straights and at higher altitudes, Force India’s cars are designed for maximising downforce, which will benefit them at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Scuderia Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel has been the only true challenger to Mercedes all year, despite the fact that the British-German team have had a significantly better car and engine – something team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has accepted himself. The German relishes the quicker tracks, and is adept at handling sharp turns.
The race will be held at 12:30 a.m. IST Monday, the 2nd of November and telecast on Star Sports.