F1 Track Preview with N. Hulkenberg – GP of Mexico

F1 Track Preview with N. Hulkenberg – GP of Mexico

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The Mexican Grand prix is the 18th race from the 2016 Formula One season. Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg is looking forward to the Latin American F1 party: “We’re at 2000 metres over sea level. That means slow downforce, the car is always very light on its feet, very easy to slide the car.”

Circuit stats

2015 winner Nico Rosberg, 71 laps, 1:42:35.038s

Pole position 2015 Nico Rosberg, 1m19.480s

2015 fastest lap Nico Rosberg, 1m20.521s (lap 67)

Name Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez

First race 1963

Circuit length 4.304km/2.674 miles (2nd shortest of the season)

Distance to Turn One 800m/0.497 miles (longest of the season)

Longest straight 1.314km/0.816 miles, on the approach to the Turn One

Top speed 365km/h/227mph, on the approach to Turn One

Pitlane length 650m/0.404 miles, estimated time loss 25s (longest of the season)

Full throttle 47 per cent

DRS zones Two, on the approach to Turns One and Four

Key corner Turn Three. It’s the final right-hander in an ‘S’ bend, so the car is heavily loaded. It’s crucial to get the power down efficiently because the second DRS zone is located on the following straight

Fastest corner 260km/h (162mph), Turn 17

Slowest corner 72km/h (45mph), Turn 13

Major changes for 2016 None, except for maintenance work on kerbs and Astroturf

Fuel consumption 1.49kg per lap, which is low

ERS demands High. The long straights use the ERS heavily, so the more efficient systems are rewarded

Brake wear Medium. There are 12 braking zones, three of them heavy, and 27 per cent of the lap is spent braking

Gear changes 44 per lap/3,124 per race

Circuit facts

History lesson

A racetrack was first built at the Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City in 1962. It hosted its first F1 race the following year, but lost the grand prix after the 1970 event, when fans broke ranks and sat on the edge of the track. The race returned from 1986 to ’92, on the renamed Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, before making another return in 2015.

What makes it unique

The altitude. Situated at 2,200m (7,218ft), the circuit is the highest on the F1 calendar and that has implications on car performance. There is only 78 per cent of the oxygen available at sea level, which means the internal combustion element of the power unit produces less power and the brakes are harder to cool in the thin air.

Grip levels

Low. The asphalt was new prior to last year’s race, which meant it was oily and very slippery. Twelve months on, the tar will have cured and grip levels will improve as a result.

Run-off

Good. Designer Hermann Tilke has included ample run-off on the re-profiled track. Where the barriers couldn’t be pushed back due to the topography of the surrounding area, at the Esses, for example, the corners have been tightened.

Watch out for…

The end-of-straight speeds. The 1.2km (0.746-mile) pit straight is the longest in F1 and last year’s top speed of 366km/h (227mph), set by Sebastian Vettel, exceeded expectations. Given the amount of progress made with the power units in the last 12 months, could we see the fastest straight-line speeds in F1 history?

Event facts

First Mexican Grand Prix

1963.

Official slogan

The race has no official slogan, but the government is quick to promote Mexico’s national values of liberty, work and culture.

Mexico’s F1 heritage

The Rodríguez brothers, after whom the track is named, were the godfathers of F1 in Mexico. Both of them raced in F1, Pedro winning a couple of races, and both of them perished in racing cars. In total there have been six Mexican drivers, two of which – Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez – are on the current grid.

Smallest winning margin

1.366s, in 1991. This was the race weekend in which Ayrton Senna flipped his McLaren-Honda during practice at the fearsome Peraltada corner. However, the race was an all-Williams affair, with Riccardo Patrese and Nigel Mansell locking out the front row of the grid. Mansell led the early laps, until cooling issues forced him to slow and that allowed Patrese to take a narrow victory, ahead of Ayrton in third place.

Sporting legacy

The buzz surrounding last year’s grand prix proved the unflinching popularity of F1 in Mexico. But the country has played host to many big sporting occasions over the years: the 1968 Olympic Games were staged in Mexico City, as were the World Cups of 1970 and ’86.

Did you know?

Honda scored its first F1 victory at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix.

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