Reports

Mexico F1 Grand Prix

2017 MEXICO GRAND PRIX – SET UP

Mexico’s passion for Formula 1 began with the Rodriguez brothers in the early ’60s. Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez both raced in F1 and generated a huge following back home, which led to the inaugural World Championship Mexican Grand Prix in 1963. The race at the Magdalena Sports City circuit stayed on the calendar until 1979, before returning in ’86 for seven years at the re-named Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. The race then reappeared on the F1 calendar in 2015 

NEED TO KNOW

Race title Formula 1 Gran Premio de Mexico 2017
Circuit name Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
First race 1963

TRAVEL

City Mexico City
Time zone CET-7 / BST-6
Population 8.8 million
Surprising fact Mexico City is built on what was formerly Lake Texcoco. The foundations are soft and the city is sinking by about four inches per year
Local speciality Mexican food is a gastronomic delight, wherever you are in the country. But nowhere do the food choices get more eclectic than in Mexico City, from the 11-course meals available at the St Regis hotel to the delicious street food available all over the city. One such dish, available from vendors on the Paseo de la Reforma, is Esquites. It’s roasted corn, mayonnaise, cheese, hot pepper and lime, all layered in a takeaway cup
Weather The weather in Mexico City is often cloudy and humid at this time of year. The long-range weather forecast predicts temperatures of 22 degrees and a 30 per cent chance of rain

Track

Track length 4.304km / 2.674 miles
2016 pole position Lewis Hamilton - 1:18.704s
2016 winner Lewis Hamilton, 71 laps - 1:40:31.402s
2016 fastest lap Daniel Ricciardo - 1:21.134s (lap 53)
Lap record 1:20.521s (Nico Rosberg, 2015)
Tyre choice Purple Ultrasoft | Red Supersoft | Yellow Soft
Distance to Turn One 800m / 0.497 miles (the longest of the season)
Longest straight 1.314km / 0.816 miles (on the approach to Turn One)
Top speed 345kmh / 214mph (on the approach to Turn One)
Full throttle 47 per cent
Brake wear High. There are 12 braking zones, three of which are heavy. But the thin air and resultant cooling issues make this a race of high attrition for the brakes
Fuel consumption 1.45kg per lap, which is low
ERS demands High. The combination of long straights and high altitude make this one of the hardest races of the year for the ERS
Gear changes 44 per lap / 3124 per race

RACE

Laps 71 laps
Start time 13:00hrs local / 19:00hrs GMT / 20:00hrs CET
Grid advantage There is a slight grid advantage, where the racing line is located, but the lack of downforce is the greater issue for the drivers. The cars are power-limited for longer away from the line, which can spice things up on the long run down to Turn One
DRS There are two DRS zones, on the approaches to Turns One and Four
Don't put the kettle on... All of last year’s podium finishers completed the race with two pitstops. A Virtual Safety Car period during the second pitstop window allowed Nico Rosberg to jump ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in second place in what was otherwise an uneventful strategic race. Although Pirelli is taking softer compounds to this year’s race, the durability of the 2017 tyres means a one-stop race is likely, with cars pitting on or about lap 30
Pitlane length/Pitstops 650m/0.404 miles (It takes 18s to make a stop)
Safety Car 100 per cent. Since Mexico reappeared on the Formula 1 calendar in 2015, the races have all been affected by a Safety Car or a Virtual Safety Car period. There’s a high chance that we’ll see another one this year
Watch out for... Argy-bargy through Turn Three. The first DRS zone along the pit straight will allow cars to close up and it’s vital for the pursuing cars to remain close through Turn Three because the second DRS zone follows

THE DRIVERS

FERNANDO ALONSO

“It’s very important that we head to Mexico with everybody in our thoughts that has been affected by the recent earthquake, and show them as much support as we possibly can at this really difficult time. 

“The welcome we receive in Mexico City is among the best in the world – you can really feel the warmth of the fans all around the circuit, especially in the arena section, and the support is unbelievable. For me, it’s nice to be able to arrive in a country, travel to the hotel and check in using my own language! But seriously, I love Mexico and the Mexican people, and I hope we can put on the show they deserve. 

“It will surely be a challenging weekend for us as I’m expecting to start from the back of the grid due to the engine issue we had in Austin. It’s also a track where we often struggle with traffic, which makes overtaking difficult. But, on the positive side, we tested a lot of new components on Friday in the USA which we were very happy with, and we hope to take those forward to use in Mexico.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

“We head to Mexico City very aware of the current situation there and we send all of our support and best wishes to the people of Mexico after such a terrible disaster. 

“For McLaren Honda, Mexico will likely be a very tricky race for us because of the long straight and the high altitude, two characteristics which will make things more difficult for us all weekend. As I had to change my PU on race day in Austin, we’re hoping that we won’t have to take penalties on my car in Mexico, but at the moment we’re looking into everything and will wait until Friday to confirm if anything is necessary. 

“I last went to Mexico City two years ago and loved the whole experience. We stay downtown and the city is really cool. I remember the awesome atmosphere around the whole track and I’m looking forward to going back there. The fans are amazing and the coolest part of the circuit is the stadium because there are so just many people there. I’ve been preparing to race on this circuit for a while with my engineers in the simulator, and I’m excited to get out on track there for the first time on Friday.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“Firstly, on behalf of both myself and the whole team, I’d like to send our condolences to the hundreds of people that have been affected by the terrible earthquake in Mexico in September. Mexico City is a place we’ve quickly grown to love visiting, and we hope this coming weekend we can show our solidarity and support for the victims and shine a spotlight on the incredible resilience they’ve shown, as well as recognise the generous hospitality we receive from our Mexican friends every year we visit. 

“While I can’t promise victory, we will of course fight for everything we can despite difficult circumstances, as we did in Austin. It’s likely that Fernando will have to take penalties due to the PU issue he faced last weekend, so he is already preparing himself for what will undoubtedly be a spirited fight from the back of the grid. We don’t yet know how the weekend will pan out for Stoffel, but will try to give him the best chance we can at what will be a second new track for him in as many weeks. 

“The conditions, too, make it tough for all the teams – it’s often hot and humid in Mexico City, and coupled with the altitude it makes cooling and outright engine performance even more of a challenge than normal. We’ve learned a lot about these characteristics from the past two years we’ve raced there and I hope we can put this to good use next weekend. We aren’t expecting to make a significant dent on the points table this weekend, but we never ever give up, and will give it our all to make the best we can out of this challenging double-header as possible.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“After a very disappointing weekend in the United States, we’re now crossing the border to Mexico. 

“First of all, we would like to express our condolences to the people who lost their lives in the disaster and offer our heartfelt sympathy to all those affected. 

“This will be the third year of the Mexican Grand Prix since its return to the Formula 1 calendar. We always enjoy racing in the cheerful Latin atmosphere in front of the fanatic Mexican fans. I also appreciate the warm support from our Honda de Mexico colleagues. 

“The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is unique in terms of its location with a very high altitude of 2,300m. Due to the thin air, it’s necessary for us to have a totally different approach to extract the power out of the PU compared to other circuits. In addition, the long straight means we’re expecting to face a tough challenge. 

“However, the tricky conditions are the same for all the other teams, and we will use the data collected over the past two years to make the best race strategy possible. 

“It is obviously a race under very difficult circumstances for the people of Mexico, and we hope to put on a good show for them all.”

2017 MEXICO GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE

“WE’RE PLEASED WITH THE WORK WE’VE MANAGED TO COMPLETE TODAY”

It was a contrasting first practice session for our two drivers as Stoffel suffered an PU issue, and after three installation laps was forced to sit out the rest of FP1. The team detected an anomaly in the data coming from his power unit, which following initial interrogation in the garage could not be diagnosed, so it was decided that the engine should be changed in order to further investigate the issue. 

Conversely, Fernando had a smooth and ultimately positive session. He was able to conduct a productive test programme, gathering a lot of useful data for the team and performing a number of aero correlation tests. He completed 20 laps and finished the session in eighth. 

The mechanics did a good job to change Stoffel’s power unit in time for FP2, and he was able to get out on track shortly after the pit lane opened at the start of the session. Both drivers had a trouble-free afternoon – Stoffel getting to grips with the car’s handling after an interrupted morning, and Fernando evaluating various set-up changes and aero components. Towards the end of the session, both drivers turned their attention to longer runs and towing practice. Fernando completed 26 laps and finished 7th, Stoffel did 32 laps and finished 15th.

FERNANDO ALONSO

#FA14 MCL32-05
FP1 1:19.346s (+1.522s) 20 laps 8th
FP2 1:18.508s (+0.707s) 26 laps 7th
FP3 1:19.565s (+2.452s) 22 laps 16th

“I would say that today has been a very positive and productive Friday. We did a lot of laps, a lot of tests, and most of them gave us good feedback. We were only seven tenths away from the fastest time and two tenths from Bottas, so surprisingly competitive in both sessions on such a complicated circuit. 

“We know it’s going to be a difficult race anyway, starting from the back, and with little chance of overtaking because of our top speed. In some ways we have to sacrifice this race in order to have a fresh engine in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. 

“We also don’t yet know which way to go for qualifying - we need to decide on a few things in terms of tyres, and see which decision gives us the least painful result. 

“The stadium section is such an incredible view! It’s so nice to see so many people in the grandstands here already, on a Friday.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-04
FP1 No time 3 laps 20th
FP2 1:19.844s (+2.043s) 32 laps 15th
FP3 1:20.030s (+2.917s) 25 laps 19th

“I had an engine problem in FP1 which obviously limited our mileage. In FP2 too it was difficult for us to get out of the box at the beginning of the session due to a loose wheel, but we managed to complete our programme for that session and gather the data we needed. 

“I hope tomorrow we will have a trouble-free day and continue our weekend as normal. I’m pleased we’ve managed to find the root of the PU problem we had in the first session, and hopefully we can get as much mileage as we can in FP3 tomorrow before qualifying. 

“On a new track, mileage is always the most important thing to achieve, especially when you’re trying to dial in the car to the circuit in tricky conditions like the high altitude we experience here. I feel positive that we can find a better feeling in the car tomorrow provided we can get the track time, and collect as much information as possible ahead of qualifying and the race.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“After a frustrating start for Stoffel we ended the day productively by gathering useful data from both cars in the second session. 

“Following the issue on Stoffel’s car in FP1, we elected to change his PU to diagnose the problem outside the car. Fortunately, the engine he was running was from our pool, and therefore it hasn’t limited our resources for the rest of the weekend but simply necessitated that we bring our programme forward. 

“Stoffel and his engineers ran the second session very efficiently to try to compensate for his lack of running this morning – a situation which hadn’t helped his programme, especially on a track on which he’s never raced before. However, he did a sterling job this afternoon to complete a full run plan and collate useful information for his team to process overnight. 

“Fernando enjoyed two smooth sessions where the team was able to gather useful data ahead of the weekend and provide his engineers with valuable feedback on the car’s handling around this circuit. We know this track is a challenging one for us and we’re hampered by penalties for both cars, but we’re pleased with the work we’ve managed to complete today, in spite of the PU issue, and we hope to be able to start on the front foot tomorrow with more useful running.”

SATOSHI NAKAMURA

“For today's running, both drivers started with a new PU. We changed Fernando's PU because of the issue he had with his MGU-H in the USA, and Stoffel's PU change was more strategic in order to help with reliability for the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. 

“During both practice sessions, Fernando completed his programme in accordance with the schedule. Although we have been expecting a tough challenge here with regards to controlling the power extraction due to the thinner air at 2,200m, the performance he showed today was rather encouraging in terms of his competitiveness. 

“As for Stoffel, we found a potential issue in his data at the beginning of FP1 and decided to change his PU as a precaution. Although it was frustrating to lose most of the session, we found the issue was very minor and there was no damage to the PU. Stoffel was then able to recover his programme, completing 32 laps in FP2. 

“It’s frustrating that we’ll have to start the race on Sunday with both cars at the back of the grid. However, we know that anything can happen in the race. For this reason, we’ll continue to focus on our set-up for long runs in tomorrow's session.”

2017 MEXICO GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING

"THE PACE WE'VE SHOWN TODAY IS ENCOURAGING FOR TOMORROW'S RACE"

After the contrasting fortunes in yesterday’s running, Saturday morning started positively for McLaren Honda. Both drivers completed their full scheduled run plans with no issues and reported positively on the work done overnight to improve the balance and handling of their cars. Fernando and Stoffel did three runs each, focussing on race set-up rather than qualifying pace, and ending their sessions with practice starts and pitstops. Fernando did 22 laps and finished 16th, while Stoffel did 25 laps and finished 19th.

Since both drivers have incurred grid penalties for a PU change this weekend – 35 for Stoffel and 20 for Fernando – the team opted to prioritise race preparation over qualifying performance – the latter of which would have done nothing to influence their starting grid positions. Given Stoffel’s limited running on Friday, he ran with higher fuel in Q1 to provide the engineers with further data ahead of the race, yet he still put in a solid lap in Q1 for 13th place and passed comfortably through to Q2.

Fernando opted for a slightly different strategy, running lighter than Stoffel in Q1 where he drove a fantastic final lap to set the fifth fastest time of the session.

In Q2, both cars took to the track but neither driver set a time. Due to their penalties, Stoffel will start from 19th on Sunday, with Fernando just ahead in 18th, due to penalties for [Pierre] Gasly.

FERNANDO ALONSO

#FA14 MCL32-05
Q1 1:17.710s (5th) Option tyre
Q2 No time set (14th) Will start 18th due to 20-place PU penalty and penalties for VAN & GAS

“I’m extremely happy with the performance of the car so far this weekend. It felt great yesterday and also today, with a lot of grip in the corners and it gave me some good feelings in the high-speed sections, too.

“In Q1 we proved how strong we are on this track. Being only two tenths off the fastest time shows what a great job McLaren is doing. I felt we had the best car out there today. It was good fun!

“Obviously saving some tyres in Q2 was the main priority today. With the straight-line deficit we have here, it’s going to be difficult to overtake tomorrow, which is the key point for us. The penalty will hurt massively because starting last we will run behind traffic for the whole race, but we’ll try to be aggressive and if something happens in front of us we’ll take the chance.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-04
Q1 1:18.578s (13th) Option tyre
Q2 No time set (15th) Will start 19th due to 35-place PU penalty and penalties for GAS

“We’re taking penalties this weekend so our focus today was preparing for the race and definitely not on qualifying. Even in Q1 I was running on high fuel to prepare for the race and fine-tune the balance. After the struggles I had with the engine yesterday in FP1 and FP2 – which made it a very difficult and complicated day – today I felt a lot more comfortable in the car from the first moment of FP3, and actually our package is getting stronger and looks reasonably competitive here.

“Today was a lot more positive for me and a big step forward, and I feel like we’re in a decent shape for the race tomorrow. We’ll be starting from the back so it will be tough, and where we will finish is hard to say. Overtaking in a straight line will be difficult for us so we’ll have to be aggressive, thoughtful and ambitious in the way we drive, and hopefully we can have a strong race.

“Qualifying was never really a priority for us today so I’m looking forward to the race.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“Today’s running was all about preparation for tomorrow. Since both drivers have sizeable grid penalties this weekend, it made much more sense for us to focus on race set-up – saving engine mileage and valuable tyres in the process – as we look ahead to what statistically-speaking is one of the more challenging races on the calendar for us.

“I’d like to praise the team for a very efficient and productive FP3, and a perfectly-executed qualifying session that went completely according to plan. This morning we managed to complete everything we had planned with no problems, and both drivers worked hard to dial-in their cars for the race. The team has worked tirelessly overnight to improve the set-up in preparation for tomorrow, and Fernando and Stoffel both felt happier and more comfortable in the car than at any point during the weekend so far.

“In qualifying Fernando put in a monster lap to set the fifth fastest time in Q1, which was only two-tenths off P1 in that session. His second sector was the fastest of any car out there. For Stoffel, it was essential that he completed as much race preparation as possible given his limited mileage on Friday, and he drove solidly despite the higher-than-normal fuel load to get through to Q2 on this tricky circuit.

"For both drivers, qualifying positions were not what we were aiming for today. Tomorrow is the day that matters and the pace we’ve shown today is encouraging for tomorrow’s race.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“With penalties for both drivers in tomorrow’s race, today was all about focusing on set-up rather than grid positions.

“To give us a free choice of tyres for the start of the race, our qualifying strategy was to push for Q2 and end the session there. Both of the cars reached Q2, and we’re happy that we reached our goal with more performance still left in the car.

“In terms of the power unit, we had a smooth day without any issues. Coming to Mexico we expected to have limited power due to the high altitude, but I’m pleased to say the effect is much less than anticipated. I appreciate the efforts made by our colleagues back in the factory who have simulated various methods and found an effective way to minimise the power loss in the tough conditions.

“Although we have both cars starting from the back of the grid tomorrow, we will push to do our best and aim for some points.”

2017 MEXICO GRAND PRIX – RACE

“WE CAN CERTAINLY SEE THE POTENTIAL IN OUR PACKAGE”

A tough and hard-fought Mexican Grand Prix for both of our drivers, who drove brilliantly under difficult circumstances after starting at the back of the grid.

Stoffel made an epic start from 19th on the grid, and was up to 13th by the end of lap one, with Fernando just behind in 14th after lap two (from 18th on the grid). By lap five, Stoffel was up to 10th position, with Fernando in 12th behind a struggling [Romain] Grosjean. The pair fought a firm battle in which the latter gained an advantage off the track and was later penalised, although Fernando was still able to pass him and move up to 11th behind his teammate. 

Both Stoffel and Fernando were then caught behind the Sauber of [Marcus] Ericsson for some laps, unable to get close enough in the corners to make a move after the straight. On lap 18, Fernando overtook Stoffel to give him the opportunity to attempt a pass, but he too struggled to make headway on what is notoriously a difficult track on which to overtake. 

Following [Brendon] Hartley’s retirement on lap 30, a miscommunication in the pits due to the late deployment of the VSC meant Stoffel was called late into the box and his pitstop was delayed, causing him to lose over five seconds in the stop and ultimately a position on track to [Felipe] Massa. He dropped down to 11th and then later 12th on lap 52, after a short-lived battle with a championship-fighting [Lewis] Hamilton. Despite a long and close fight with Massa over the closing 15 laps of the race, Stoffel was unable to capitalise on his strong pace and make a move stick, and he finished the race in 12th position. 

Fernando enjoyed a feisty battle with [Sebastian] Vettel, and despite ultimately forfeiting that position, was up to eighth when he boxed a lap later than Stoffel on lap 32, losing only one further place during his stop. He then set about chasing down [Kevin] Magnussen, in which he made up a deficit of over eight seconds to close up to his rear wing and spent a long time – the pair battling for 34 laps – in his dirty air unable to pass. A close tussle with Hamilton ensued in the final stages, providing hugely entertaining viewing for the fans in the grandstands until Fernando was forced to concede four laps from the chequered flag. He ultimately finished the race in 10th place and scored a well-deserved point.

FERNANDO ALONSO

#FA14 MCL32-05
Started 18th
Finished 10th
Fastest lap 1:21.014s (lap 50) +2.229s (11th)
Pit stops One - lap 32 (3.20s) Prime > Option

“Overall it was a good race, considering we started at the back of the grid, and we finished in the points. The car felt very nice all weekend – strong in the corners, and we had good handling and good balance throughout the race. 

“We lacked a little bit of straight-line speed to attack or defend, so we were stuck behind a Sauber for half of the race and then we could not pass [Kevin] Magnussen for many laps. As soon as we lost the DRS with him we became very vulnerable, so in the end I think there was nothing we could do to keep Lewis [Hamilton] behind.

“We fought hard, trying to brake a little bit later every time and defend the position, but we couldn’t manage to keep ninth place and save that point. It was a good battle but it’s hard when you don’t have the same car. 

"We now head to Brazil – let’s try to score some more points.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-04
Started 19th
Finished 12th
Fastest lap 1:20.972s (lap 66) +2.187s (10th)
Pit stops One - lap 31 (7.30s) Option > Prime

“We had an amazing start today – we were 13th after the first lap – but we’ve seen today how much we are missing in a straight line. We couldn’t even keep a Sauber behind and we couldn’t really overtake after that, so we lost ground. But our pace in clean air was very positive, the car felt very good, and starting from the back we knew it was always going to be tough for us. 

“The end of the race got very exciting with a few cars coming close together, but it still shows that our straight-line speed is not good enough. It was a difficult race for us – there were definitely points on the cards today, but we were just too compromised because of our speed and losing time in the pitstop with the late VSC call. The positives we can take away are that our pace was really strong and we made it to the end, but our deficit on the straights is still too big. 

“Massive congratulations to Lewis [Hamilton] today – it’s a great achievement and it was a strong fight from him this season.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“Today was an extremely tough race for both our drivers, who drove incredibly well given the limitations of our car on a circuit that is well-known for its challenges, namely its power-sensitivity and its complex configuration, which make it almost impossible to overtake. 

“Both Fernando and Stoffel showed strong pace and made a number of excruciatingly close attempts to overtake, but with little reward for their efforts. We can certainly see the potential in our package – both drivers made incredible starts from 18th and 19th on the grid – and it’s frustrating to only have one point from 10th and 12th to show for it. Nevertheless, I think both of them should be proud of the performance they put in today on track, knowing as they do the challenges they face with every race, and it was positive to see us putting up a solid fight against the much less power-sensitive cars around us. 

“A positive we can take from Mexico is that both cars made it to the end of the race despite the technical challenges this circuit poses in its altitude and cooling issues. We now look ahead to Brazil which should be a circuit much more sympathetic to our package, and we’ll keep pushing hard to improve our chassis as we continue our development into next year.

“I’d also like to take the opportunity to congratulate our former teammate Lewis [Hamilton] on a very well-deserved fourth championship. Today was a taste of what we hope will be more to come, and we look forward to more exciting battles with him on track next year.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“Despite having both cars starting from the back of the grid, it was a great result for the team that we were able to grab a point in the end. Both Fernando and Stoffel made brilliant starts, and fought around tenth place throughout the race. 

“Fernando, who has had a good feeling in the car all weekend, drove a superb, dogged race to eventually snatch the final point. His drive today was full of passion and showed what an incredibly skilled driver he is, and I think he deserves to be praised. Stoffel had an incredible start and pushed hard all race long, therefore it is disappointing that he was unable to reach the points. 

“Regarding our PU, despite having a tough challenge at high altitude here in Mexico, both cars finished the race and we had decent speed. I think we can come away from this weekend with some positivity. The team also did a good job with strategy and everyone worked incredibly hard today. Obviously we have only two more races to go as McLaren Honda, and we will continue to work together and finish in the best position we can. 

“Finally, I would also like to congratulate Lewis [Hamilton] and Mercedes for their world championship wins. Both Lewis and the team have done an incredible job this season.”