Williams drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica are both heading into the relative unknown this weekend, with neither of than having any prior experience of racing at Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit.
For Russell that’s not particularly surprising, given that he’s still in his rookie F1 season and encountering a lot of tracks for the first time in 2019.
“It’s a track that I have never driven, and I always love driving new circuits,” stated the 21-year-old British driver.
“It will be an interesting weekend,” he predicted. “I think Mexico will be a challenging weekend for everybody due to the altitude of the circuit, but also the heat.
“I am looking forward to the challenge and excited to go racing again,” he added.
As for his team mate, Kubica revealed that he had taken a car out on track here a decade ago, before the rallying accident in 2011 that curtailed his initial F1 career.
“I am looking forward to going to Mexico City,” he said. “I only had the chance to drive the circuit in its previous layout for a demo run over 10 years ago.
“It will be a new experience for me,” he admitted. “It is a unique place because we run at very high altitude, so the downforce level is much lower due to the air density.”
Kubica will be at the slight disadvantage of sitting out first practice on Friday morning, with Nicholas Latifi getting behind the wheel in his place for the first of three consecutive FP1 sessions with the team
Williams’ senior race engineer Dave Robson confirmed that Williams would be bringing their new front wing to Mexico for further testing.
The aerodynamic upgrade performed well in Suzuka, although it was not deemed ready to run in the Japanese Grand Prix itself – somewhat to Kubica’s apparent annoyance.
“Having brought a new front wing concept to Suzuka, we will spend time on Friday completing further testing and data gathering.
“At more than 2km above sea level, Mexico City is a tricky circuit,” Robson continued. “The aerodynamics of the car become less effective.
“Despite the long straights, the drag sensitivity is only moderate. Cooling of the power unit and the brakes can be very difficult, and most teams will spend time evaluating options during FP1.”
Robson added that the reduced downforce could make it difficult for teams to get their tyres into the optimum operating range this weekend.
“Pirelli have provided their middle compounds for this event, a combination that we saw recently in Russia,” Robson said.
“Warm-up could be difficult, especially in the early sessions, but this should get easier as the weekend progresses.”
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