Just a few days on from the United States Grand Prix, the American triple-header continues with the Mexico City race. F1Technical’s senior writer Balázs Szabó picks out some vital facts ahead of Round 20 of the 2023 F1 season that takes place at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
Short track – The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez belongs to the group of shorter race tracks on the current Grand Prix calendar. The Mexico City circuit is just 4.304km long. Drivers will need to cover 71 laps in total in today’s race to complete the entire race distance of 305.354km, d
The usual speed limit – Drivers have to adhere to a speed limit of 80kph in the pit lane during the practice sessions, the qualifying and the race. Pitting for new tyres requires a total of 22 seconds in green-flag conditions, while doing that under virtual or real safety car period see drivers saving up around seven seconds.
Remarkable history – Today’s race will be the 23rd Mexican Grand Prix which is now officially referred to as the Mexico City Grand Prix. The event first appeared on the calendar in 1963 and began life as the Magdalena Mixhuca circuit. The sport visited the venue until 1970 inclusive. A further seven races took place from 1986 to 1992 and after a 23-year hiatus, the field returned to Mexico in 2015.
Five occasions – The Formula One Drivers’ title has been won in Mexico City on five occasions so far. Next to John Surtees, Denny Hulme and Graham Hill, Lewis Hamilton secured two of his title in Mexico.
Incredible atmosphere – The last section of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is referred to as Foro Sol which is a true stadium section, one where every driver receives a rapturous reception on every one of the 71 laps. Fittingly, it’s also where the podium ceremony takes place, making it one of the spectacular of the season.
Special circuit – The main straight is a good 1.2km long, while the second and third sector consists of slow corners and a series of esses where aero downforce is a key requirement. The most distinctive feature of the circuit is its altitude. In fact, it has the highest altitude of any circuit and by quite some margin, situated 2,285 metres above sea level, five-times the height of the PETRONAS Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
Critical start – The above-mentioned long start-finish straight usually play a critical role at the start with the best example represented by Max Verstappen’s brilliant getaway and ambitious move into the first corner that saw him make a jump on pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas and his teammate Lewis Hamilton a few years ago.
Even if there is an offset of 230m between the start and the finish line, the section from the pole position to the first corner is 830m long. Getting a good getaway is critical at the start as the slipstreaming effect is quite powerful down that route.
Unique place – The already mentioned high altitude at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez poses a unique set of challenges to the race cars. Situated some 2285m above sea level, the thinner air heavily affects almost all components of the cars.
The less oxygen going into the internal combustion engine means that the turbo has to work harder to mitigate that effect. The turbocharger has to spin faster to generate more pressure, but it also means that it is under greater stress. The lower air density also affects the cooling of the brakes and the power unit.
Quite spectacular – There are three DRS zones in Mexico. The first zone has a detection point 70m after Turn 9 and an activation point 80m after Turn 11. The following two zones share a detection point, located at the exit of Turn 15. The second zone starts 165m after Turn 17 and the third activation point is 115m after Turn 3.
Several changes – The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has gone through some modifications compared to last year. The TecPro has been removed from the left-hand side of the track between Turns 4 and 5.
The most successful driver - Max Verstappen is the most successful driver at races in Mexico, with four wins, in 2017, 2018, 2021 and last year. Jim Clark, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Lewis Hamilton have all won the famous and beloved event on two occasions apiece.
The most successful constructors - Red Bull Racing have claimed four victories so far in Mexico with Max Verstappen having taken each of those wins. Mercedes, Williams, McLaren and Lotus have three wins each. Formula One’s most successful team Ferrari has recorded two wins so far.
High percentage – Formula One returned to spectacular and challenging Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez of Mexico in 2015. Despite to the relatively big run-off zones, the virtual safety car or the Bernd Maylander-driven safety car had to make an appearance in almost each of the last seven editions of the Mexican Grand Prix, adding another factor to the race strategy and spectacle of the race.
Smart and lucky - Pitting for new tyres during a safety car period is quite advantageous around the Mexico City track as well. A normal pit stop requires 22 seconds in total while doing that while the Safety Car is on the track can provide drivers with a net gain of seven seconds.
Under control – Fuel usage has not been an issue in recent years as cars do not only produce less downforce, but also less drag due to the thinner air.