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  • Reese Mautone

Mexico City Grand Prix Preview

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Formula 1 returns to Mexico City this weekend for the 18th round of the 2021 season, ending the long-awaited anticipation of Mexican fans.

Mexico City and its people have an extensive history with motorsport, but none as rich as their passion for Formula 1 and their Mexican-born drivers. The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit makes no exception to 2021's haul of exciting races along with its unmatched atmosphere of F1 deprived Mexican fans singing high praises for their beloved homegrown hero, Sergio Perez.

The Mexican Grand Prix first started in 1962 as a non-championship event, earning a permanent slot on the F1 calendar from 1963 to 1970, again from 1986 to 1992, and after a 23-year hiatus returned in 2015 to the current season, with the exception of its cancellation in 2020 due to the global pandemic's heavy restrictions. For the circuit's fundamental years, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez was called Magdalena Mixhuca, however, following the tragedy which saw the death of F1 driver Ricardo Rodríguez, the circuit was renamed in 1970 after Ricardo, and his older brother Pedro.

Over time, the circuit has had a small amount of remodelling done to maximise its layout along with the usually seen track resurfacing. Today, the track length sits at 4.304km with the race length equating to 305.354km across a duration of 71 laps. Reaching speeds in excess of 370km/h down the main straight, modern-day F1 cars make a playground of this circuit's 17 corners and 3 DRS points. The Mexican GP's track is situated over 2000m above sea level, making it the highest on the calendar followed by Brazil, and a real advantage for some.

The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit's history is riddled with an array of notably famous names in motorsport and Formula 1. None so successful than the 1963 and 1965 F1 world champion, Jim Clark, who holds the record for most victories in Mexico City with three wins, a number that potentially could be equalled by Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton this weekend who both hold two wins to their names. Not only does Clark top the tables for wins in Mexico, but he also managed to be the only driver to obtain a grand slam of sorts, earning pole position, fastest lap, and the highest step of the podium across Mexican GP in 1963. An impressive achievement, Clark's team, Lotus alike maintains their record of most wins at the circuit with four victories, closely followed by Mercedes with three, and Red Bull and Ferrari with two.

The last time Formula visited vibrant Mexico City in 2019 saw a slightly different result to what is to be expected this weekend. On the Saturday, despite Verstappen's time earning him pole position, his inability to slow during yellow flags saw Ferrari's Charles Leclerc promoted to P1 for Sunday's race accompanied by teammate Sebastian Vettel, making it a Ferrari front-row lockout. The race saw Lewis Hamilton's ambitious one-stop strategy earn him P1 over Vettel in P2, followed by Bottas in P3, and saw current championship contender Verstappen have a race to forget after early contact with both Mercedes on separate occasions resulting in a puncture which only allowed for a recovery to P6. 2019's fastest lap was awarded to Leclerc at 1:19.232 seconds, however ceased to break Bottas' 2018 time of 1:18.741 seconds.

So, what can we expect to see this time out?

In a championship battle so intense and so close with just 12 points separating Verstappen and Hamilton, elbows may have to be pulled in to avoid a DNF situation from both parties. in terms of the upper hand, Red Bull edges out Mercedes at this track, going into the weekend pre-race favourites as their car package is seemingly better suited towards the high topography of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez's location, and too with the reliability issues surrounding Mercedes' Hamilton and Bottas' power units beginning to appear in the latter end of this season. Globally, fans are wanting to see how these two will battle it out this weekend, but in Mexico, all eyes are on Red Bull's Sergio Perez.

Entering his first home Grand Prix as a driver of a top team, the Mexican will have the full attention of his adoring home crowd even more so than in previous outings, with the chance of a win definitely on the table this weekend. In the past, the best result for a Mexican driver on home soil was Pedro Rodriguez's P4 in the 1968 Mexican GP, so to say fans are excited for a Mexican to be up on the podium is an understatement. The United States GP saw the Netflix effect on full display with a record-breaking 400,000 fans in attendance across the weekend, increasing by 51% on the previous event. In 2019, a record attendance of 345,694 fans was recorded at the Mexican GP, and in combination with the Netflix effect and the Checo effect, the fully sold-out event is expected to amass larger numbers.

For fans lucky enough to be attending the Grand Prix this weekend, perfect conditions are expected. Friday and Saturday are set to see temperatures sitting around 20 degrees Celsius and sunny blue skies, with a very low 5% chance of rain across the weekend. Sunday's weather conditions are no different. Despite slight periodical cloud cover, temperatures are expected to be around 19 degrees Celsius for the race meaning that it will be run on the designated C2, C3 and C4 Pirelli compounds as the Hard, Medium and Soft tyres respectively, should all follow according to the radar. The track is smoother on tyres than the US GP was two weeks ago, however, teams can run the Mexican GP a one or two-stop strategy.

This weekend is set to be filled with action and passion both on and off the track with Mexico City Grand Prix finally making its long-awaited return to the 2021 Formula 1 Calendar, and with 5 races to go, the title is anyone's for the taking!


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