Mercedes-AMG F1

F1/Round 18: Preview & Starting Grid For 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix

F1 Motorsports News
Race starts at 1 pm in Mexico/3 am (Monday) in Malaysia

While the racing teams are on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean, they have 3 races in the hemisphere – after the US Grand Prix in Texas, this weekend sees the second one in Mexico City. The event has been known as the Mexican Grand Prix for the 20 times in has been held since 1963 (last year, it was cancelled due to the pandemic) but this year, it will become known as the Mexico City Grand Prix.

An event special to Honda
The Mexican Grand Prix has been held at the same circuit which was originally named the Magdalena Mixiuhca Circuit but renamed to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in honour of the country’s racing drivers, Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez. This circuit in particular is special to Honda because it was the first Japanese team to win a Formula 1 race in the 1965 event. While it did not participate as a factory team later on, it was an engine supplier and contributed to the victories of Williams (1987) and McLaren (1988-1989) in the Mexican rounds of the championship.

Honda RA272 winning the 1965 Mexican GP – the first F1 win by a team from Japan.

5 times higher than Petronas Twin Towers
The 4.3-km circuit set within a sports park has always presented a unique challenge for the engineers. At 2,385 metres above sea level, it is situated at the highest altitude of any circuit and that’s 5 times higher than the height of the Petronas Twin Towers. This means the air is thinner (by about 25%) so the operating conditions are unlike other tracks. This is where forced induction is vital to avoid the loss that naturally-aspirated engines suffer due to less air being available.

There are also has implications on aerodynamics and the racing cars will be set up with maximum downforce. But because the air is thin, resistance is less so the cars will be able to hit very high speeds of around 350 km/h too.

The drivers will have to be alert for cooling problems with the brakes and the turbochargers will also have to work harder, so there is a risk of the Power Unit failing. Cooling the car appropriately is probably the biggest challenge in Mexico. For the Power Unit, the lack of mass flow of air limits the cooling potential, which requires careful management to ensure reliability.

Red Bull Racing or Mercedes-AMG?
Going into the final quarter of the championship, the battles for the Drivers and Constructors titles are still tight. The lead has alternated between Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS and Red Bull Racing and after the US Grand Prix, Max Verstappen has a lead of just 12 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton 275.5 points. Running in third is Valtteri Bottas with 185 points and he will be starting from pole position for the race after a surprise qualifying run to beat his teammate by 0.145 second. 35 points behind him is Sergio Perez who will be in fourth place on the grid, alongside his teammate, Verstappen.

Historically, the Mexican Grand Prix has been one of the races where the Drivers championship has been decided but in those years when Hamilton was confirmed champion (2017 and 2018), the event was the 19th round of a 20-race calendar.

In the Constructors championship, the positions are reversed and it is the German team that is ahead of Red Bull Racing by 23 points. The fight for the title will be confined to these two teams, while third will be fought by McLaren and Scuderia Ferrari which are just 3.5 points apart with 5 rounds remaining.

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