Mercedes: we expect Mexico to be the most difficult one for us

Mercedes previews the Mexican Grand Prix, round 18 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Toto Talks Mexico

“When we embarked on this journey, no one would have dreamed we would ever be able to achieve this. We hoped that we would be able to win races, maybe even a Championship and represent the Mercedes brand well – but to win six consecutive double Championships and beat a record that seemed unbeatable is very satisfying. It’s an achievement that is testament to the hard work, great determination and passion of every single member of our team. Everyone in Brixworth and Brackley has done a tremendous job and we all feel very grateful to call ourselves World Champions for a sixth consecutive time.

“There is no sense of entitlement in this team for future success, so we were quickly back to our usual race preparation routine after Japan. We know that the four remaining races are not going to be easy and we expect Mexico to be the most difficult one for us. The high altitude of the track brings some fairly unusual challenges as the low air density affects the downforce of the car, the cooling and the engine performance. It’s a combination that doesn’t particularly suit our car, but we will give it everything to try and limit the damage. We look forward to the fight and to the amazing Mexican crowd that shares our love for racing and turns the weekend into a brilliant celebration of motorsport.”

Mexican Grand Prix: Fact File

  • At 4.304km, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is the second shortest circuit on the F1 calendar after the Circuit de Monaco.
  • The Mexican Grand Prix is one of three races in the season that has 71 laps, together with Brazil and Austria.
  • The 811-metre run from pole position to the first braking zone is the second longest in F1, only behind Russia. 9.6 seconds of it are completed at full throttle.
  • The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez has the highest altitude on the calendar, situated 2,285m above sea level. Before Mexico returned to the F1 calendar, the track with the highest altitude was Interlagos in Brazil, 800m above sea level.
  • Despite the high altitude, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is one of the flattest tracks on the calendar, with the third smallest elevation change – 2.8m over the 4.304km lap. Only Melbourne and Sochi, both of which are only slightly above sea level, have less elevation change.
  • The high altitude means that the ambient pressure is the lowest of the season by far, around 780mb. Oxygen levels at this altitude are 78% of what they are at sea level and this reduction in air density has an impact on the Formula One cars.
  • The Power Unit is the most affected by the low atmospheric pressure. A normally-aspirated engine would suffer a significant drop in power (around 20%). A turbocharged engine can make up for this but the turbo has to work much harder than in normal conditions to achieve it, which increases temperatures.
  • The thin air also means that it is less effective to cool the car, so the Power Unit and brakes run hotter. Bodywork with increased cooling is required to address this.
  • The thin air and increased cooling have two consequences on the aerodynamics of the car: less downforce and less drag. We run a rear wing equivalent to Monaco, but despite this, the actual downforce on the car is closer to the levels experienced in Monza.
  • Because of these factors, Mexico sees some of the highest straight-line speeds of the season with cars reaching 370km/h in a tow.
  • Some of the highest track temperatures of the year are experienced in Mexico, with an average temperature of 43.5°C and maximum temperatures of up to 52°C in previous years. This is in part due to the very dark tarmac.
  • There is a third DRS zone for the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix, running between Turn 11 and Turn 12, with a detection point at Turn 10.
  • Despite the long main straight, the track has statistically the third fewest overtakes over the years.
  • The fastest corner on the circuit is Turn 9, taken at around 250 km/h. Drivers experience 4.1G through this corner, the most of any on the track. The slowest corner is Turn 13, taken at under 70km/h. This is one of the slowest turns of the entire season.

Stat Attack: Mexico and Beyond

2019 Mexican Grand Prix Timetable

Session Local Time (CDT) Brackley (BST) Stuttgart (CEST)
Practice 1 (Friday) 10:00-11:30 16:00-17:30 17:00-18:30
Practice 2 (Friday) 14:00-15:30 20:00-21:30 21:00-22:30
Practice 3 (Saturday) 10:00-11:00 16:00-17:00 17:00-18:00
Qualifying (Saturday) 13:00-14:00 19:00-20:00 20:00-21:00
Race (Sunday) 13:10-15:10* 19:10-21:10* 20:10-22:10*

*Change from CDT to CST / BST to GMT/CEST to CET on Sunday 27 October 2019

Race Records – Mercedes F1 at the Mexican Grand Prix

  Starts Wins Podium Places Poles Front Row Fastest Laps DNF
Mercedes 4 2 5 2 4 2 0
Hamilton 4 1 2 1 2 0 0
Bottas 4 0 2 0 0 1 0
MB Power 4 2 6 2 4 2 2

Technical Stats – Season to Date (Barcelona Pre-Season Test 1 to Present)

  Laps Completed Distance Covered (km) Corners Taken Gear Changes PETRONAS Fuel Injections
Mercedes 6,699 33,683 108,701 321,929 267,960,000
Hamilton 3,236 16,284 52,685 156,149 129,440,000
Bottas 3,238 16,278 52,513 154,782 129,520,000
MB Power 17,977 90,671 291,232 863,649 719,080,000

Mercedes-Benz in Formula One

  Starts Wins Podium Places Poles Front Row Fastest Laps 1-2 Wins Front Row Lockouts
Mercedes (All Time) 206 99 206 109 199 73 52 64
Mercedes (Since 2010) 194 90 189 101 179 64 47 62
Hamilton 246 82 148 87 144 46 N/A N/A
Bottas 135 6 43 10 25 12 N/A N/A
MB Power 476 185 474 192 379 168 83 101


Renault: We’re aiming to carry some momentum

Renault speaks ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, Round 18 of the FIA Formula One World Championship.

Drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo share their thoughts on the challenges of Mexico City, while Engine Technical Director Rémi Taffin provides an update on the team.

Nico Hülkenberg: “Mexico has a really cool atmosphere. The circuit is quite old with a lot of history and you really feel that vibe when you’re there. It’s a tricky little circuit. It’s high altitude and that changes the racing dynamic quite a bit. The car has less downforce, a lot less drag, so we’re fast down the straights and then under braking the car feels like it has a lot less grip. It’s quite a unique feeling and one you have to get used to. It’s important we score well again in Mexico. We’re approaching the business end of the season and everything has to count.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “Mexico is an awesome place and I really enjoy going there. The atmosphere in the paddock is full of life and quite vibrant. The pole position last year was pretty memorable. It was an exciting lap, putting it all together at the end; it was special. If we can get into Q3 and be first of the midfield this weekend then that will be pretty good too. We’ve been on a disappointing run recently so we deserved the result in Japan. We’re aiming to carry some momentum now in Mexico. The target is to better the McLarens and outscore them to keep the pressure on. Let’s go Mexico!”

Rémi Taffin, Engine Technical Director: “Mexico is a unique challenge for the season. At 2,000m, the air is much less dense than what we see throughout the year. Air is used to create downforce and cool the car, which we know is much lower than usual in Mexico. We run a Monaco-level aero package even if it still doesn’t create that much drag and produces our high maximum speed. Mexico is like a performance damage limitation event; we don’t primarily design the car to be Mexico specific, we only ensure we minimise the effects of the altitude. During the last few years, we’ve been relatively competitive there.”


Ferrari: We arrive in Mexico determined to win

Ferrari preview the Mexican Grand Prix, round 18 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Maranello, 22 October 2019 – This weekend’s race will be the twentieth Mexican Grand Prix. The race has always been held at the same venue, although its name and layout have changed over the years. The track is not far from the centre of Mexico City, at the vast Magdalena Mixhuca sports complex after which it was originally named and which also hosted the 1968 Olympics. It features a long straight, a mixed middle sector and a final part featuring the Peraltada, much modified today from its past as a parabolic corner reminiscent of the one at Monza.

Early years. Mexico’s inaugural Formula 1 race was held in 1962 and was a non-championship event. The win went to Jim Clark, who took over Trevor Taylor’s Lotus after his own car broke down. The event was marred by the death of the local youngster, Ricardo Rodriguez. It was also a sad loss for the Scuderia, which had an agreement in place with the Mexican that, the previous year, had seen him become the youngest ever driver to make his Formula 1 debut with the Maranello team, at the age of 19 years and 208 days, a statistic which still stands today. The following year, Scuderia Ferrari took part in the first race to count for the world championship, but posted a double retirement with John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini.

The second title. In 1964, Ferrari turned up with the same driver pairing, along with Ricardo Rodriguez’s elder brother, Pedro. The three cars raced in the colours of the North American Racing Team (NART) because at the time, Enzo Ferrari was at loggerheads with the Italian sporting authority that had not supported his homologation as a GT car of the 250 LM destined for the Le Mans 24 Hours. This was the last race of the season and both titles were still up for grabs. The contenders were Graham Hill in the BRM, Surtees in the Ferrari and Clark in a Lotus. Clark led from the start, followed by Dan Gurney in the Brabham, while Surtees was fifth. Hill and Bandini were having a good scrap for third, but when the championship leader Hill tried to pass the Italian, they collided. Hill spun and was out of the race. It looked as though Clark was therefore heading for the title, but with ten laps to go, his car began to have some problems. Ferrari ordered Bandini to let Surtees pass into second place and he won the title when Clark stopped on the final lap. There were great celebrations, as John became the first and, to date the only, driver to win world championships at the highest level on two wheels and four. For the Maranello marque it was its second Constructors’ title.

Crazy one-two. Scuderia Ferrari did not enjoy much success in subsequent years in Mexico City, until 1970, when Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni finished first and second. However, the race was held in chaotic conditions and the start had to be delayed by an hour, when many of the 200,000 strong crowd broke down the crash barriers to stand perilously close to the track. Having repaired the safety installations, the Grand Prix got underway, but as the laps ticked by, the fans once again began to creep onto the grass at the side of the track. Ickx dashed under the chequered flag the clear winner and the crowd surged onto the track to celebrate the Belgian’s win. It meant that Regazzoni and Denis Hulme, second and third, as well as the rest of the field, had to tackle a scary slalom through the crazy crowd. No one was injured, but that was the end of the Mexican Grand Prix for now. The country’s fans suffered another much worse tragedy, when Pedro Rodriguez was killed in an Interserie race at the Norisring, in Germany, in 1971.

Comeback. This race is run at higher altitude than any other, around 2,300 metres above sea level and it returned to the calendar in 1986, with the circuit having been revised and also renamed, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, in honour of the two brothers. Scuderia Ferrari secured a notable one-two here in 1990. Qualifying was difficult: Nigel Mansell was fourth on the grid and Alain Prost way down in 13th. However, it was clear from Sunday morning’s warm-up that the potential of the F1-90 was good enough for the tifosi to dream of glory. Gerhard Berger led in the McLaren from his team-mate, Ayrton Senna, while Mansell was battling Nelson Piquet for third. With 15 laps to go, they were passed by Prost who set off in pursuit of the McLarens, quickly dispensing with Berger. The Frenchman then overtook Senna and the win was safe once the Brazilian had to stop with a puncture. Stealing the limelight from the Frenchman in the closing stages were Berger and Mansell and their duel for second place. For the fans, the crowning glory came with just a few kilometres to go, when the Englishman pulled off one of the most spectacular passing moves ever, passing the Austrian around the outside of the high speed Peraltada.

New era. The Mexican Grand Prix returned to the calendar in 2015, again at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, although this time the layout had been substantially modified by F1 track architect Hermann Tilke. The most significant change was the disappearance of the original Peraltada, replaced with a very slow part in the Arena section, which actually runs through a huge grandstand from which the spectators get a great view of the cars at slow speeds. Sebastian Vettel took pole in 2017, going on to finish fourth behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Last year, the Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers finished second and third in a race won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

GP contested 987
Seasons in F1 70
Debut Monaco 1950 (Alberto Ascari 2°; Raymond Sommer 4°; Luigi Villoresi rit.)
Wins 238 (24,11%)
Pole positions 227 (22,99%)
Fastest laps 252 (25,53%)
Podiums  768 (77,81%)

GP contested 18
Debut 1963 (John Surtees dsq; Lorenzo Bandini ret.)
Wins 2 (11,11%)
Pole positions 2 (11,11%)
Fastest laps 4 (22,22%)
Podiums 10 (55,55%)

Sebastian Vettel: “Obviously racing at altitude has an impact on how the car feels. We are racing with maximum downforce level in terms of car setup, but, since we are racing so high above sea level, the air is very thin and the cars actually produce very little downforce.
On the long straight, I think we see the fastest top speeds of the season, which makes it difficult  to manage the corners, because we’ve got so little downforce physically on the car. The car is moving around a lot and it’s difficult to get the tyres to work, in fact it’s hard to get the whole car to work and to get the right feel from it. It’s a relatively short lap but not an easy one.
Over the past couple of years, we have been on an upward trend in Mexico, although Red Bull has been the team to beat. But I think the gaps between us are getting smaller, so let’s see how we get on this year.”

Charles Leclerc: “The circuit in Mexico is an unusual one. We race at such a high altitude and all the teams try to put as much downforce on the car as possible. Despite that, it still feels quite weird and the grip is extremely low.
I have done one FP1 and one race there, so it’s one of the tracks that is still pretty new to me. I really enjoy driving there, especially because the walls are quite close and this is something I like as a driver.
The atmosphere is amazing and driving through the stadium part of the track is truly unique, because you can see all the fans in the grandstands.”

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal: “After two races in which we could have done better, we arrive in Mexico determined to win. We will be aiming for our sixth consecutive pole, before looking to convert that into a victory.
The Mexican track has plenty of elements that can catch you out, some of these linked to the fact we are racing at over 2000 metres above sea level. That makes fine tuning the settings on both the chassis and Power Unit side particularly complex, as the requirements are very specific to this track.
The circuit features a variety of corner types as well as long straights on which, year after year, the record relating to top speeds has been beaten. The necessary compromise between having good top speed and sufficient downforce in the corners dictates the aero settings with which we will take to the track.”


Racing Point: We expect to be competitive

Racing Point preview the Mexican Grand Prix, round 18 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Lance Stroll: “Mexico is a really fun event. The fans are great and they really help make the race special with the atmosphere they create. Even on the Friday, you see full grandstands and can feel the energy of the crowd.

“Away from the track, the city is awesome too. It’s a busy place, with lots going on, and I definitely enjoy exploring and trying the Mexican food – you can’t beat a good taco! I’ve obviously been to Mexico City a few times now for the race, but I also visited Punta Mita a few years ago for a holiday and played on the golf course. It’s a beautiful place.

“Mexico City is up there as one of my favourite circuits of the year. I enjoy driving the car in high altitude conditions and you can really notice the difference because the car feels more nervous. It just adds another challenge for the drivers.

“It’s quite a simple track – sort of like a go-kart track with some long straights linked by some low-speed corners. It’s quite technical in places and there are overtaking opportunities. I think we have good potential in the car for these final few races and Mexico should suit us quite well.”

Sergio Perez: “The race in Mexico is a hugely important weekend for me. It’s my home race and I always feel very proud to see Formula 1 back in Mexico. We’ve just had the notice that the race contract has been extended for another three years, which is great news for the sport and for Mexico. Everybody tells me how much they love the race – my colleagues, the media and the fans. It’s our chance to show everybody the Mexican way of life and how much we love sports.

“The track is a pretty challenging one – especially when you consider we are driving the cars at a high altitude. It’s tough on the drivers physically and it’s hard work for the power unit as well because the air is so thin.

“I think the final sector is my favourite part of the lap – the fast and flowing section, which can be very tricky, and it’s easy to make a mistake through there. Because of the altitude, you have much less downforce on the car and the car can sometimes get quite loose through those fast corners.

“The final sector also has the stadium section and when it’s full of fans the atmosphere is like nothing else. Each time I drive through there, even during practice, I can hear the fans and feel their support.

“Overtaking is never easy, but I think the best opportunity is into Turn 1 – that’s where we’ve seen most of the moves being made.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal: “Mexico has been a fantastic addition to the calendar and, over the last five years, has become one of the most popular races of the season. The atmosphere inside the circuit is unlike any other and, away from the track, we’re treated to some great hospitality. I personally don’t think you can beat a good Chimichanga!

“As a team, we enjoy great support in Mexico – especially because it’s a home race for Sergio – and the energy of the crowd is something that the whole team feeds off. We expect to be competitive and to be fighting for points on Sunday. The car has evolved significantly over the last couple of months and Mexico City is another chance to demonstrate the progress we have made recently.”