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Formula 1 Preview: Mexican Grand Prix

Written by Marcus Woodhouse, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Image Credit - Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Welcome back to Mexico, a festival of Formula 1 frenzy, for the 20th instalment of this fascinating 2023 season. To the delight of the hordes of highly passionate fans that fill out the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez every year, their home hero Sergio Perez will be equipped yet again with the fastest machinery, and will be ready to give it his all this weekend. For the rest of the grid, they’ve got nothing to lose, so prepare yourself for an action fest, come Sunday.

Circuit Guide

Image Credit - Formula 1

Breathtaking in every sense of the word, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez lies 2 km (1.2 miles) above sea level. This formidable altitude often throws a spanner in the works for the teams, giving the drivers a unique challenge to overcome.

A monstrous start-finish straight signposts the lap, before another DRS (Drag Reduction Zone) comes at the end of the Esses Moisés Solana. A series of tricky turns follows, including Ese del Lago, and the extremely tight Horquilla, preceding a third DRS zone. Then comes the grand finale of the track, as the drivers snake through the electric atmosphere at the Foro Sol, with its incredible grand-stand packed full of crazed supporters, before the frighteningly fast Peraltada leads into the chequered flag, and concludes a lap of the track.

Weekend Format

The Mexican Grand Prix brings a refreshing return to the regular F1 weekend format, with no sprints to be seen on the schedule.

Schedule (in BST)

Practice 1 - Friday, 19:30 pm

Practice 2 - Friday, 23:00 pm

Practice 3 - Saturday, 18:30 pm

Qualifying - Saturday, 22:00 pm

Race - Sunday, 20:00 pm

Weather Forecast

Similar to last weekend in Texas, the weather will be unlikely to play much of a role over the Mexican Grand Prix, with minimal chances of rain, and moderate track temperatures forecast for the event.

Major Talking Points

  • Checo’s Chances - The home hero here, ‘Checo’ will have his heart set on the top spot of the spectacular podium at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, aiming to go one better than the podium he achieved last year.

  • First F1 Outings in FP1 - Five of our twenty cars will have a different driver at the wheel in FP1 (Free Practice 1) on Friday, in order to both fulfil the teams’ obligations, whilst giving some younger drivers a chance with the big boys: Oliver Bearman (Haas), Isack Hadjar (AlphaTauri), Jack Doohan (Alpine), Theo Pourchaire (Alfa Romeo), and Frederik Vesti (Mercedes).

  • Technicality Troubles - It will be intriguing to see how both the teams and the FIA respond to last weekend’s debacle of disqualifications, hours after the conclusion of the race, especially whether the affected teams are forced to sacrifice some performance to ensure the legality of their cars, or whether the FIA will be more thorough in their post-race inspections to ensure they check every car.

The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Years Gone By

Image Credit - Bernard Cahier/Getty Images

This iconic track has seen some legendary races in its time, and none more so than the 1964 threeway title showdown between Jim Clark, Graham Hill, and John Surtees. It was heartbreak on the penultimate lap for Clark with a mechanical retirement, allowing Ferrari to employ team orders to get Surtees past his teammate Lorenzo Bandini and take the championship by just one point.

More recently, we enjoyed a thrilling end to the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix, as Sebastian Vettel desperately tried to claim a podium spot, but was outwitted by the teamwork of Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, with the Dutchman managing to back Vettel off into Ricciardo’s clutches.

Last Race Recap

A captivating race played out in Texas last weekend, following a less exciting sprint race on Saturday. Lando Norris got the jump on pole sitter Charles Leclerc off the line, and held on to the lead for as long as he could, before Verstappen’s pace was ultimately too great to shackle.

Lewis Hamilton was the next to pass the McLaren driver, and it looked as though he could threaten Verstappen for the win, although the challenge never quite transpired. Verstappen, Hamilton, and Norris made up the podium, but a late double disqualification for Hamilton and Leclerc saw Carlos Sainz promoted to yet another virtual podium.

Drivers to Watch

Image Credit - Clive Mason/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Sergio Perez - Home Hero

Despite a generally disappointing season for the Mexican, Perez always performs in front of the masses of his adoring fans at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. His Red Bull car has shown no signs of losing its status as the fastest car on the grid, so he has all the tools he needs to send the grandstand into raptures on Sunday.

Max Verstappen - Circuit King

Since his arrival into Formula 1, Verstappen has taken victory in four of eight Mexican Grands Prix, including highly impressive wins in 2017 and 2018 ahead of the generally stronger Mercedes and Ferrari cars. He has always had an affinity towards this track, and there doesn’t seem to be much that anyone can do to stop him this year, so expect a dominant display from the Dutchman.

The Other Contenders

Lewis Hamilton will be looking to make up for the lost points from last weekend, and continue his good form in recent races. Lando Norris is still searching for a maiden victory, and time is running out to secure it in the 2023 season. Finally, Ferrari will be hoping to bring the race pace and the strategy to match Charles Leclerc’s commendable pole position in Texas.

Marcus’ Predictions

While we’ve had some crazy results in recent races, I would expect a return to normalcy this weekend, as Red Bull’s strength coupled with both their drivers’ particular pace around the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez will lead to a Red Bull 1-2 on Sunday, headed of course by Verstappen.

Although it looks much more uncertain behind them, I’m going to go with Hamilton for the final podium spot, aided by another Ferrari disaster-class as they fail to bounce back from their catastrophic race last Sunday. Further down the order, I think Aston Martin will finally have a decent weekend in the points, and Daniel Ricciardo will be right up there in the mix as well.

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