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Formula 1 Preview: Mexico Grand Prix

Written by Marcus Woodhouse, Edited by Olivia Hartley

Next up, Formula 1 returns to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico, as this intriguing season draws to a close. Despite both the Drivers and Constructors Championships already being decided, it is looking like an enthralling grand prix is headed our way. Max Verstappen will be looking to follow up his championship success with a 14th win of the season, breaking the all-time record currently held by both Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. Mexican driver, Sergio Perez, will be hoping to put recent form behind him and delight the home crowd with his first win in front of his adoring fans. Lastly, Mercedes and Ferrari will be hoping to claim victory in order to take some positives from this challenging season, and hit the ground running in the next.

Credit: Peter J Fox

A well-established racing circuit, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez was opened in 1959, named after the Mexican racing drivers Ricardo and Pedro Rodríguez, who both sadly lost their lives doing what they loved. It has been intermittent on the F1 calendar since that time, but has been a permanent fixture since 2015, much to the joy of home hero Perez. Notable races include the 1964 title decider, in which John Surtees narrowly edged fierce rivals, Jim Clark and Graham Hill, to claim the title by one point. Another is the 1991 showdown between Williams teammates, Riccardo Patrese and Nigel Mansell, the former barely coming out on top after a long duel at the front.

The circuit itself is renowned for its significant altitude (over 2km above sea level), leading to reduced aerodynamic drag which allows for higher downforce setups. The final corner, named the Peraltada, can be compared to Monza’s Parabolica, but the slight banking results in an even greater speed around the turn and into the start-finish straight. Additionally, the Foro Sol stadium section is a wonder to behold, as drivers attempt to navigate through a series of difficult chicanes, as a multitude of passionate fans cheer them on.

In 2021, we saw a dramatic race unfold, as the two Mercedes cars outqualified Verstappen, but could only watch as he swept round the outside of them at the start. It went from bad to worse for Valtteri Bottas as his pole position swiftly turned into disaster after a collision with Mclaren’s Daniel Ricciardo sent him to the back of the field. Verstappen seemed impervious to the pressure out front, so Lewis Hamilton’s attention soon changed to keeping Perez behind. Despite Perez successfully closing the gap between them, down to a second with 11 laps to go, the crowd favourite couldn’t find a way through but was still good enough for a podium in front of his fans. The main outcome, however, was Verstappen further extending his championship lead.

Credit: Lars Baron

Last weekend, we saw a thrilling US Grand Prix, with battles up and down the field and a much-needed close battle at the front. A first-lap collision between polesitter Carlos Sainz and George Russell mixed the order up somewhat, and it was Verstappen that was there again to take advantage of the chaos. However, as the race unfolded, he wasn’t exactly pulling away from his competitors, and a slow pit-stop forfeited the lead of the race to Hamilton and Leclerc. The latter was passed soon enough after a brief duel in which the pace of Verstappen and his Red Bull clearly showed, but Hamilton had a very good shot at his first win of the season. He drove his heart out but it wasn’t enough to maintain the top spot on the podium, as he was overtaken just a few laps before the end of the race. Second place was still a very good result for Mercedes though, as they look to continue their push to match the pace of the Red Bull.

All in all, the storylines are abundant and the race is looking like yet another fascinating watch. Can Red Bull continue their dominance, through either the record-breaking Verstappen or the home hero Perez, or can Mercedes or Ferrari put a stop to their title parades? It’s all to play for on Sunday.


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