Start, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017

Why the Mexican GP has “potential for carnage”

2018 Mexican Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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With the Red Bull drivers on the front row and the championship contenders on the second, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff expects drama at the start of the Mexican Grand Prix.

“The grid has the potential for carnage on the straight and through the first corners,” said Wolff. “You have the two Red Bulls, who have the least straight-line speed, in the front row, then it’s us and the Ferraris, who are obviously almost 10kph up to everybody else.

“So I try to visualise how that could look down the straight and through the first corner and I hope we just come out of it with two cars intact.”

Last year Max Verstappen weaved his way through to the front as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel clashed. But by missing out on the top three places, have Ferrari ended up best-placed to benefit from the tow on the long blast to turn one?

“We have higher speed than the others on the straight so maybe it helps us,” Vettel admitted.

“We need to make a good or decent start and the the two makes everything here on the straight,” said Kimi Raikkonen, who had the fastest car in a straight line on Saturday (see below) and will line up sixth of the ‘big six’.

“We need to get in a good tow and then obviously try to stay out of any issues in the first corner. Usually it’s pretty hectic here.”

After that the race is likely to be dominated by tyre management. The top six cars on the grid all managed to get through Q2 using the harder ultra-soft compound, giving them a strategic advantage over the four cars closest to them. “We believe that the hyper-soft is going to melt in two-and-a-half laps,” said Wolff. “It’s not a tyre you can actually race on.”

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Mercedes decided after running the ultra-softs in Q1 that they would be able to qualify on them, which came as a relief to Hamilton.

“We didn’t think [on Friday] with that performance that we would be able to qualify on an ultra. So that would have been a massive disadvantage for us if we had to start on the hyper for example.

“As soon as we got into qualifying, I knew straight away the way the car’s feeling, I was like, OK we’re in a much stronger position to fight.”

With careful tyre management a one-stop strategy is possible. However Pirelli believes that for once a two-stop strategy is quicker, with drivers doing two stints on the super-softs. Anyone who drags their ultra-softs out to lap 15 or later – perhaps if aided by an early Safety Car – could be looking at a one-stop.

But if the run to turn one threatens to be “carnage”, another possible situation for the race might also create drama. There is a risk of rain on Sunday. That would transform an already low-grip track into something resembling an ice rink, according to Nico Hulkenberg.

“If it rains tomorrow I think it would be chaos,” he said. “It would be pretty tricky to keep the car on the road. I think we’d see a lot of cars going off.

“Here even in the dry it’s on a knife’s edge but I think if you put rain in there it would make it very interesting and difficult for the drivers.”

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Qualifying times in full

DriverCarQ1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’15.8661’15.845 (-0.021)1’14.759 (-1.086)
2Max VerstappenRed Bull1’15.7561’15.640 (-0.116)1’14.785 (-0.855)
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’15.6731’15.644 (-0.029)1’14.894 (-0.750)
4Sebastian VettelFerrari1’16.0891’15.715 (-0.374)1’14.970 (-0.745)
5Valtteri BottasMercedes1’15.5801’15.923 (+0.343)1’15.160 (-0.763)
6Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’16.4461’15.996 (-0.450)1’15.330 (-0.666)
7Nico HulkenbergRenault1’16.4981’16.126 (-0.372)1’15.827 (-0.299)
8Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’16.8131’16.188 (-0.625)1’16.084 (-0.104)
9Charles LeclercSauber1’16.8621’16.320 (-0.542)1’16.189 (-0.131)
10Marcus EricssonSauber1’16.7011’16.633 (-0.068)1’16.513 (-0.120)
11Esteban OconForce India1’16.2521’16.844 (+0.592)
12Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’16.8571’16.871 (+0.014)
13Sergio PerezForce India1’16.2421’17.167 (+0.925)
14Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1’16.6821’17.184 (+0.502)
15Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1’16.828
16Romain GrosjeanHaas1’16.911
17Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’16.966
18Kevin MagnussenHaas1’17.599
19Lance StrollWilliams1’17.689
20Sergey SirotkinWilliams1’17.886

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Daniel Ricciardo27.131 (8)28.353 (1)19.275 (1)
Max Verstappen26.929 (4)28.539 (3)19.315 (2)
Lewis Hamilton26.867 (3)28.612 (4)19.341 (3)
Sebastian Vettel26.687 (1)28.756 (5)19.527 (5)
Valtteri Bottas26.995 (5)28.528 (2)19.520 (4)
Kimi Raikkonen26.793 (2)28.771 (6)19.692 (11)
Nico Hulkenberg27.233 (13)28.997 (7)19.536 (6)
Carlos Sainz Jnr27.287 (15)29.094 (8)19.647 (8)
Charles Leclerc27.008 (6)29.103 (9)19.830 (14)
Marcus Ericsson27.121 (7)29.434 (12)19.808 (13)
Esteban Ocon27.189 (10)29.392 (11)19.669 (9)
Fernando Alonso27.611 (20)29.274 (10)19.936 (15)
Sergio Perez27.141 (9)29.459 (13)19.642 (7)
Brendon Hartley27.420 (18)29.571 (15)19.688 (10)
Pierre Gasly27.383 (17)29.725 (17)19.720 (12)
Romain Grosjean27.225 (12)29.609 (16)20.073 (17)
Stoffel Vandoorne27.438 (19)29.528 (14)20.000 (16)
Kevin Magnussen27.212 (11)29.857 (18)20.286 (20)
Lance Stroll27.260 (14)30.082 (20)20.206 (18)
Sergey Sirotkin27.299 (16)30.061 (19)20.273 (19)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari356.4 (221.5)
2Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari354.2 (220.1)-2.2
3Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari354.2 (220.1)-2.2
4Charles LeclercSauberFerrari352.1 (218.8)-4.3
5Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes350.3 (217.7)-6.1
6Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes350.0 (217.5)-6.4
7Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari349.6 (217.2)-6.8
8Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes349.4 (217.1)-7.0
9Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes348.0 (216.2)-8.4
10Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari347.8 (216.1)-8.6
11Sergey SirotkinWilliamsMercedes347.2 (215.7)-9.2
12Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes347.2 (215.7)-9.2
13Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer346.5 (215.3)-9.9
14Brendon HartleyToro RossoHonda345.9 (214.9)-10.5
15Pierre GaslyToro RossoHonda345.7 (214.8)-10.7
16Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault343.0 (213.1)-13.4
17Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer341.9 (212.4)-14.5
18Carlos Sainz JnrRenaultRenault341.6 (212.3)-14.8
19Fernando AlonsoMcLarenRenault339.3 (210.8)-17.1
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenRenault335.7 (208.6)-20.7

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Over to you

Will the Red Bull drivers keep it clean? Who will win the sprint to turn one – and the race?

Share your views on the Mexican Grand Prix in the comments.

2018 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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    57 comments on “Why the Mexican GP has “potential for carnage””

    1. It’s going to be so much fun. Such a long wait though, itching to watch it. So many variables.

      1. Just seen rain predictions and thunderstorms of about 65% chance between 12:00 and 15:00. As if more variables were needed.

        1. Imagine Alonso getting a podium or something with McLaren due to rain. Kimi got his win why wouldn’t Nando get a long awaited triumph?

          1. Because the McLaren handles like a lorrie and has the downforce of a crashed plane?

            1. Isn’t downforce of crashed plane better than a flying one? :)

            2. LOL at both your comments grat & Alex!

            3. @Alex.. that’s the force that brings it down.

      2. My Sunday today is pretty much about a slow but steady build up to the green lights as well :)

    2. Will the Red Bull drivers keep it clean? – Yes.
      Who will win the sprint to turn one – and the race? – Ricciardo.

      1. Daniel will have to hold off Maxes usual 20lap barrage before hes in the safezone, he hasnt done it yet.

      2. I don’t know. You’d say pace is on Max’s side based on the weekend – Daniel’s pole lap was perfect (it was truly gorgeous) and Daniel’s been able to cope better with the engine braking issues whatever they are, but on balance Max has been faster this weekend. And he’s got the slipstream. Race is up for grabs.

        1. And in general max appears to be a little better in punching in fast laps consistently. So riccirado may have a hard time with both pit stops. On the other hand, the one in front will have longer lasting tires perhaps. As a max fan I could live with a riccirado win though. It may be his last for some time. Enjoy the race!

    3. Looking forward to the start, but at the same time I fear it’s again one of those overhyped situations, and eventually the top 6 emerge line astern from the first complex of corners with the biggest drama being someone locking up slightly.

      1. Yes, I’m also braced for that @kaiie, hoping of course I will be positively surprised, but working hard not to get too excited.

      2. @kaiie, I would say that the odds of that situation arising do seem to be increasing given that Horner has now been making a few comments about “synchronised driving”, and suggesting that the team have a co-ordinated plan to any attempts by either Hamilton or Vettel to overtake by basically using as much track as possible to stop their rivals coming down the inside of them.

    4. So, whose going to crash into who out of desperation? Max seems to be in a permanent state of overtake mode, and I would happily place a bet on him to get the lead… but behind him we could see some interesting ‘tactics’… I’d put some money on HAM pinching VET off the start and then all hell could break loose!

      1. @boysfromthedwarf Hamilton could go for the gap ala Senna ;P

      2. @boysfromthedwarf, I would say that it is rather unlikely to happen given that Hamilton can afford to play the long game this weekend – Vettel absolutely has to win, whereas Hamilton could still afford to even DNF and still win the title so long as Vettel doesn’t win (as, even with Hamilton not scoring, if Vettel was second, he’d end up 52 points behind with only 50 points available).

        In fact, given how frequently Vettel has clashed with the Red Bull drivers in recent races, Hamilton might even be inclined to let Vettel go – if Vettel then gets tangled up with one of the Red Bull drivers, it could remove two potential rivals from the race.

        1. @anon

          Hamilton can afford to crash, as long as it also takes out Vettel. Vettel is screwed if he even damages his car so much that he no longer can win. So it makes sense for Hamilton to risk a crash to keep Vettel behind.

    5. I’m predicting Vettel to spin on lap two, corner 1.

      1. Well he has had lots of practice recently :(
        I wonder if he wants to be the first WDC to spin to the back every race but still take the title?

      2. @philipgb

        He might as well start backwards

      3. @philipgb – lap two? Please enlighten me how he gets through the first lap safely :-)

        1. @phylyp

          Lap 1 seems too obvious, I’m trying to look clever on the off chance he does

    6. It will be interesting if Hammy puts up a fight because he’s always been gun shy in his duels with Verstappen. Was even talking himself out of passing Verstappen in Austin.

      1. I agree Hamilton has been extremely smart with his driving. Said himself he had a 0 risk approach to Austin and that’s why he extended his championship lead over Vettel who once again tangled with someone and spun.

        1. Smart like Rosberg in 2016. Just had to finish second for the remaining 4 races.

    7. Why did Hulk finish his 2nd run in Q3? He was in 8th with better tyres, now he’s in 7th on the worst tyres.

      1. In Q3 @zomtec? Do you mean Q2, maybe? The Q3 tyres are discarded.

        1. You’re right, I meant Q2

          1. Q2 doesn’t set your top 10 position though, it did not decide whether Hulk started 8th or 7th

            1. Also true, don’t know what I was thinking. Makes it even worse, he was through to Q3 and threw away his advantage.

    8. HansieSlim (@)
      28th October 2018, 9:22

      It will be interesting to see how the start pans out. The Ferrari’s are faster in the first sector but significantly slower in the 2nd and 3rd sectors which will make it difficult for the Ferrari’s catch the Redbulls by the end of the lap and be in a position to use DRS to their advantage for the first sector.

      1. If the red bulls survive the fist lap, they should be safe for the rest of the race, only Hamilton can challenge them on pace if he stays in 3rd
        , he will go with them at least until his tires start to fade

    9. Ferrari is Mighty in sector 1. If they get a good getaway then Seb May as well lead after turn 1, unless he spins which I hope doesn’t happen.

    10. Potentially the most interesting run to Turn 1 that we’ve had in ages… I bet it rains before the race and we start behind the safety car!

      1. Wet SC start might be the safest/best option for both Danny and Max to be honest.
        Neither of them is going to be very polite or cautious at the start.

        1. F1 does grid starts in the wet now anyway right?

          1. Yes, but I meant it would be a good idea to get these two through the first lap safely before letting them both off the leash ;)

    11. I am also interested to see whether Ocon or Alonso, with tyre choice can jump either Renaults or Saubers who will be on disadvantageous tyres through the stops

    12. Put it this way, if you wanted to arrange it so that the first four cars all reached the first corner at exactly the same time, you’d put them in that order.

    13. Max gonna eat Dan first corner and both DNF! :D

    14. LOL, Max being the only Renault-guy beating the Honda’s on top speed.

      Seems he’s a fair bit better equipped than RIC in terms of top speed, who has been making up for it in the corners. Set-up.

    15. ric 212
      ves 215
      ham 216
      vet 220mph

      hmm i predict 1 of 2 things at the start vettel will breeze past everyone one down to turn 1 due to ferraris op power or …

      the will be yet another game of red bull billiards with seb scoring 2points for the cannon and putting danny ric in the coner pocket and out of the race

      something is bound to happen because vettel is a tool in a fast car

    16. It’s got potential to be dull as well, if Max gets into the lead in the first turn, with Ham 3rd and Vettel 4th it could be a procession.

      Hopefully not but there you go.

      Best scenario is Vettel leads after lap 1 with RIC and VER chasing, Hamilton has an incident and has to come back through the field with a damaged car.

      1. Would be nice yeah. And after a ferocious hunt, HAM still ending up pointless.

    17. Seb will have one of his “downforce holes” that will send him into another “weird spin” straight into Hamilton, taking them both out on the first lap… championship decider moves to Brazil. ;)

      1. @mtlracer

        Hamilton becomes champion if both crash out.

      2. Actually with the exception of France with Bottas, every one of Vettel’s collisions this year has resulted in only him spinning.

        France, Bottas recieved the puncture.
        Monza, Vettel spun and suffered damage, Hamilton ‘twitched’ might as well have been hit by a fly for the reaction of the car.

        Japan, Vettel spun and suffered damage, Verstappen driven wide and suffered some very minor damage if I remember correctly, but recovered quickly and kept his position.

        Austin, Vettel spun, Ricciardo pushed wide and eventually retired with unrelated problems.

        With the exception of France, Vettel has been the worst off in each case. And if you liump in Gerrmany, he’s had a go at taking out most of the top six with only two successes (France and Germany)

        There’s only one left. Kimi. Could be a Ferrari coming together if Vettel sticks to his apparent pattern of going after the top six. hehe

      3. Just like one he had in Mexico 2017 or Baku 2017?

    18. Got the popcorn ready even though race is going to be at nearly midnight.

    19. HAM tangles with VER and both try to charge back through field. RIC engine breaks 10 laps before the end. VET spins and crashes all by himself. BOT wins but is disqualified for having too much air in a tyre. The victory falls to Perez, out of nowhere, and the crowd goes wild. HAM quietly celebrates a 5th world title. Scene fades, roll credits.

    20. “Why the Mexican GP has “potential for carnage”

      The large number of carne asada taco stands ?

    21. Oh well, looks like a dry race, 20% of rain near the end.

    22. That headline tho

    Comments are closed.