2017 Mexican Grand Prix track preview

2017 Mexican Grand Prix

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The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez offers the best of both worlds: A permanent F1-specification circuit nestling in one of the world’s largest cities.

This is the track’s third spell on the F1 calendar and both times it has returned changes had to be made to bring it up to current safety standards.

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)1’18.704 (Lewis Hamilton, 2016, qualifying three)
Tyre compoundsSee drivers’ choices
2016 Rate the Race5.94 out of 10
2016 Driver of the WeekendSebastian Vettel

Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez track data in full

In 1986 that meant losing the ultra-fast right-hander at the start of the lap in favour of a quick chicane. Later in the lap a very sharp hairpin where the track virtually doubled-back on itself was eased. The flowing Esses and staggering quick Peraltada at the end of the lap remained untouched.

But for the circuit’s 2015 return much of the remaining quick corners were toned down. The first three corners are much tighter, as is the the following sequence of bends. The Esses is now a much briefer sequence of corners.

The biggest change was the loss of the Peraltada. When F1 left after 1992 a baseball pitch was built on the inside of the turn. That plus the fact there is a road running along the back of the circuit left no opportunity to continue using the corner. Besides, routing the track through the Foro Sol stadium has helped create a unique atmosphere and viewing opportunity at the track, even if the cars pass through it very slowly.

In other respects the track has clearly improved. The vicious bumps which prompted strenuous complaints from drivers in the nineties have been substantially eased.

The track also sees some of the highest speeds of the year. This is despite the fact its many slow corners mean teams put Hungaroring levels of downforce on their cars. Mexico City’s high altitude means the air is thinner and therefore doesn’t generate as much downforce or drag. It lies 2,200m above sea level which is 1,400m above the next-highest track on the calendar, Brazil’s Interlagos.

The altitude also has an effect on the power units. “The thinner air means the turbo has to spin at a higher rate to input enough oxygen into the internal combustion engine,” explains Renault’s Remi Taffin. “It actually spins around 8% more in Mexico than in Abu Dhabi.”

The track offers fairly low grip and Pirelli has brought its softest tyre selection for this weekend’s race. All the drivers have chosen at least six sets of the ultra-softs each.

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A lap of Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

On a flying lap the cars can exceed 350kph with DRS open on the immense pit straight before hitting the brakes for turn one. It’s a tricky and hard braking zone on a low-grip surface.

Corner-cutting at turn one was a problem last year
The run-off area is very generous and this proved a major bone of contention last year. Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen were among those who cut it during the race, but Verstappen was the only one penalised.

The cars dodge left and right, then accelerate to over 300kph again into a sharp left-hander. This is the second DRS zone and another useful overtaking opportunity, though Sebastian Vettel earned himself a post-race penalty for clashing with Daniel Ricciardo here 12 months ago.

Any drivers who go side-by-side into turn four must be wary of the even tighter right-hander which follows. A collision with Valtteri Bottas at this point of the track ended Kimi Raikkonen’s race in 2015.

After the slow, double-apex turn six, the pace of the corners speeds up. The benefit of the increased downforce of this year’s cars won’t be as great due to the thin air, but even so drivers are unlikely to brake much until they reach turn ten.

At turn 12 they take a sharp right into the stadium section. A very slow left-hander begins leads into a couple of non-turns, after which they rejoin the old Peraltada into a new turn named after Nigel Mansell, in recognition of his dramatic pass on Gerhard Berger in the 1990 race.

There’s been a disappointing lack of such heroics in the two races since F1 returned to Mexico, but hopefully that may change this year.

2017 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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16 comments on “2017 Mexican Grand Prix track preview”

  1. Ever since the aftermath of this race, I’ve been wondering what will they do with the runoff area of turns 1-3 come this season’s edition of the Mexican GP as it caused a bit of controversy 12 months ago for obvious reasons. Just for the sake of avoiding unnecessary confusion not for me because for me, things were clear straightaway on the opening lap, but perhaps for some other people, it’d be good if they’d put a polystyrene bollard there to mark the route the drivers would have to use for rejoining the track if they go off. I shall wait and see for tomorrow (Friday at the latest) to find out.

    1. I was wondering about that too. As I’ve often said, the best solution would be to have a barrier forcing cars to go back and rejoin at turn 2, as they would have to if it weren’t a chicane.

      However, without doing that the best solution would be to say that any car that doesn’t rejoin before turn 2 should indeed have to go around a polystyrene bollard.

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        25th October 2017, 17:42

        @jererjj & @strontium In my opinion, turn 1 should connect to turn 4 via a straight or a curved straight. The chicane in place at turn 1 now is like the final chicane in Catalunya; it separates the cars.

    2. @jerejj ‘Ever since the aftermath of last season’s race.’

  2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    25th October 2017, 14:43

    I hope they have a similar celebrity at the Mexican Gran Prix. One of the highlights of US GP was having Usain Bolt there and Lewis taking him on a ride in the awesome green Mercedes GTR!!!

    I hope they do that with more celebrities. I would love to see Vettel drive someone around in a Ferrari or Alonso drive someone in a McLaren 720 or P1.

    It adds another fun aspect to the race to see who the mystery guest is and to see them praying for their lives in the cars.

    It’s also good for all the car manufacturers.

    I would love to see an Aston Martin with Ricciardo and a 007 actor – Pierce Brosnan or Sean Connery!!!

    1. I didn’t like the focus on the celebrities. It makes F1 seem even less accessible to regular fans. David Coulthard noted during the commentary that the celebrities didn’t even seem to be watching the race, they were just there for the show, which given how many people would have loved to have the level of access they had, is a huge shame.

      I much preferred it when there was just Matt Le Blanc standing in the back of a garage

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        25th October 2017, 17:44

        How about instead a fan a chosen by a lottery and they get to be driven around by Hamilton, Vettel, etc.? I think they do that at the Indianapolis 500. Mario Andretti drives a fan around in a two-seater IndyCar.

  3. Kvyat got demoted again, so do we take it as fact that Max Verstappen is going to win the race?

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      26th October 2017, 0:42

      But if Red Bull stop demoting him, how will Verstappen win races in the future?

      1. Hahahaha! Love it!

  4. I got into F1 well after the Mexican GP had been dropped, so I can only talk about the current version. It’s quite boring I must say in terms of racing opportunities, a real contract to COTA.

    I wonder how much of an effect the new regs will bring into the track, perhaps cars really plugged in can follow each other in the esses much better.

    1. digitalrurouni
      26th October 2017, 13:02

      I can’t get in to this layout either. Technically though it poses problems for the teams because of the high altitude and car setup as a result which is cool. I also like the stadium section but that’s about it.

  5. the lap record is actually 1:20.521 by Rosberg from the 2015 race.

  6. The new layout is good but when you compare it to the old layout it’s pretty awful.

    I think they have really ruined what made the esses so great on the old layout. Before they flowed into each other with each part of them been faster than the previous, They were a brilliant sequence of corners & a joy to watch the cars drive through.

    The new ‘esses’ are neither interesting or exciting to watch, There nothing more than a few angled kinks in the road, There’s nothing that special about them & thats a shame as I feel that changing those as well as removing Peraltada have stripped away everything that made the old layout as great & as popular as it was.

    Old Esses:
    New Esses:

  7. Unfortunately this track was pretty much butchered with the remodelling of every corner. Instead of a flowing section and fast corners, now it has: 1) a chicane 2) another chicane 3) a hairpin 4) a chicane 5) a chicane, yay 6) a slow-medium speed corner 6) a ridiculously tight hairpin 7) a really slow corner. Doesn’t sound, and it isn’t too inspiring.

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