Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez aerial map, 2015

2016 Mexican Grand Prix track preview

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Formula One is struggling to attract crowds because it is “no longer exciting” according to the boss of Malaysia’s circuit. The Mexican Grand Prix promoters would be forgiven for not having noticed.

Track data: Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

Lap length4.304km (2.674 miles)
Grand prix distance305.354km (189.738 miles)
Lap record (race)1’20.521 (Nico Rosberg, 2015)
Fastest lap (any session)1’19.480 (Nico Rosberg, 2015, qualifying three)
Tyre compoundsSee drivers’ choices
2015 Rate the Race5.44 out of 10
2015 Driver of the WeekendNico Rosberg

Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez track data in full

A huge crowd of almost 135,000 people packed the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez last year for the country’s first race in over two decades. Even more are expected this weekend, with almost 40,000 of them crammed into the Foro Sol stadium section at the end of the lap.

Of course it helps matters that Mexico has a grade one-compliant FIA circuit nestling in a metropolis which is home to 8.9 million people with over twice as many more in the surrounding areas. That alone has always made it an obvious choice of venue for an F1 race, yet one the sport avoided for over two decades until its return.

The confines of the Magdalena Mixhuaca park which the circuit is located within meant the circuit layout had to be badly compromised in order to accommodate Formula One’s return 12 months ago. But even making allowances for that, the Tilke redrawing of the layout stripped it of every corner worthy of a name.

While the loss of the mighty Peraltada was no less regrettable for being inevitable, it’s a shame more of the other quick corners couldn’t have been retained, at least in spirit if not exact configuration.

Nonetheless the vast crowd will make for a brilliant atmosphere and the combination of unusually high altitude and a very long straight – where cars exceeded 360kph last year – makes for a distinctive venue.

Last year the freshly-laid asphalt was slippery. But since then several other series have been to visit, including the World Endurance Championship last month, so the drivers will hopefully find more grip this time. If that permits cars to follow each other through the second part of the lap more closely, we could see more jockeying for positions on the straight.

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A lap of Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2015
Bottas and Raikkonen tangled last year
A 1.2-kilometre straight leads the drivers to turn one, so anyone who gets a poor start will pay a serious price for it. The opening trio of corners feed into each other: a 90-degree right hander followed by a slow chicane. This was once a high-speed right-hander, then a series of three quick bends, and in its latest form is completely neutered.

The main straight is so long it’s easy to overlook the second significant stretch which brings drivers to another sequence of slow bends. The right turn four-five chicane saw some overtaking last year, and a clash between Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen which put the Ferrari driver out.

The squared-off hairpin which follows is a “very weird” corner, according to Romain Grosjean. “It’s very difficult to find a line.” Drivers generally sacrifice the first apex to straighten the car up before hitting the second one.

This used to lead drivers into a sequence of connected left and right-handers not unlike the first sector at the Circuit of the Americas, only faster and increasing in tempo. Now the drivers briefly flick left, right and left, then tackle a slower right-hander leading into another left and press on torwards the Foro Sol stadium.

Sergio Perez, Force India, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2015
The stadium section is slow but spectacular
In the stadium a tight right-hander leads into a brutally slow hairpin – “as slow as Monaco”, according to Grosjean. “Finally, it’s the double right-hand corner with very important traction going into the old part of the oval to finish the lap.”

The density of corners in the second half of the lap means we can expect to hear a lot of complaints about blue flags during the race, even with the new procedure announced last weekend. And the limited run-off space around the stadium and other parts of the track should raise the possibility of Safety Car interruptions.

Nico Rosberg could win the world championship this weekend. The last time the title was decided at this track was in 1968 when victory in the race secured the crown for Graham Hill. The only way Rosberg can seal the championship on Sunday is by winning the race, and even then he will need Lewis Hamilton to finish a long way behind.

Note: satellite imagery may not have been updated to reflect recent changes

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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15 comments on “2016 Mexican Grand Prix track preview”

  1. I think that the Rosberg vs Hamilton battle will last until Abu Dhabi. (maybe bacause of a mechanic failure or a pit-stop/strategy unvoluntary or voluntary mistake)
    It eventually also makes sense in terms of “audience pumping/hyping”.

    But maybe I’m wrong, never say never.

    1. I hope you are right. If Rosberg wants to be seen as the true F1 champion, winning the WDC this weekend won’t help him because it means Hamilton was a DNF. If he wants to be a champion in most people’s eyes, he need to finish first in every race and have Hamilton finish second. If it happens the other way around and Hamilton wins every race and Rosberg finishes second but still wins the WDC, people will always say he didn’t deserve it. They can’t/shouldn’t do that if he wins the next 3 races. Or at least 2 of them.

  2. This circuit and it’s numerous fans in the stands deserve a better race than they got last year. Chances are slim looking at most of the races this year but we can only hope we get a Malaysia-style upset to spice things up!

    1. If Ferrari can stop making a mess of things like last year (Mexico) or even last week in the US, we can arguably have an entertaining fight between them and Red Bull. However, Ferrari aim to displease, as has been their motto this season.

  3. This track is the worst job Tilke has done since Abu Dhabi. Pathetic, useless, disgusting, not even a shadow of former greatness-these are the only terms in which I can describe it. I’m sorry for the wonderful Mexican fans, they deserve much better than this. The stadium section is IMO a crime against everything F1 stands for. 40000 people crammed into there, to watch F1 cars crawl at speeds under the pitlane speed limit?! Tilke you FAIL

    Rant over.

    1. I hear you.

      Now, can we spoon?

  4. Formula One is struggling to attract crowds because it is “no longer exciting” according to the boss of Malaysia’s circuit. The Mexican Grand Prix promoters would be forgiven for not having noticed.

    Brilliant opening, @keithcollantine!

    1. @phylyp Thanks – I’m sure Sepang would get a better crowd if it was as close to the heart of Kuala Lumpur as this is to Mexico City…

  5. Along with Sochi and Abu Dhabi, probably the third wrung in the Tilke-trinity-of-truly-terrible-tracks. The clumsy, follow-my-leader turns of 4,5 and 6 is at last a truly credible rival for title of “Worst Track Complex [customary Clarksonian pause]… in the World” currently held by turns 5, 6, 7 at Abu Dhabi. Even the Ss have no flow. The first apex is too slow, so whilst all other S-bend complexes in the world start quickly and require the driver to progressively bleed momentum through the changes of direction, the drivers are trying to regain momentum through the preceding curves.

    Saying that, we should see some impressive lap-times this year. Given that we almost came within a second of Rosberg’s 19.4 pole lap during the race last year just shows that it wasn’t a fully representative pole lap, and the Audi LMP1 car has since logged a 1’24 in WEC qualifying affirming that. I would be surprised if pole isn’t a 1’15.

    1. @william-brierty

      Moises Solana’s and Ricardo Rodriguez’s ghosts should pay a visit to Tilke everytime he is in Mexico. His “work” to The Esses is a crime against racing.

    2. Yeah, if F1 cars have trouble with anything, it’s regaining momentum….

  6. Zooming in on the google maps photos, that track looks so tasty. I guess it would have been harder to overtake there in the past, but to drive it must have been awesome. #stoptilke

    1. *google maps still hasn’t updated the photos

  7. I wonder how hard it might be to sink in the road running alongside the Peraltada…
    Link up the park with the Neighboring stadium and sporting complex, and make the venue much better in terms of facilities and space to expand the event?

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