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McLaren preview the Mexican Grand Prix

McLaren preview the Mexican Grand Prix weekend, Round 19 of the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship, at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

  • 26-28 October 2018
  • Start time 13:10hrs local/19:10hrs BST/20:10hrs CET
  • Race laps 71
  • Tyre choice Red Supersoft, purple Ultrasoft, pink Hypersoft (third time this combination has been used in 2018)

Lowdown The Essentials

Focus points Altitude. The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is situated at 2,200 metres, which is three times higher than F1’s next highest track (Interlagos in Brazil). The thinner air affects the cars in three significant ways. First, they produce less downforce. The cars run maximum downforce, yet they produce less aerodynamic grip than at Monza. Second, the internal combustion unit produces less power because there’s 75 per cent less oxygen than at sea level and, third, it’s harder to cool the car.

Most demanding section The Stadium (Turns 13-16). This is the slowest section on the lap and a lot of time can be lost if traction or turn-in are a problem. It’s easy for the drivers to lock the unloaded front tyre on the approach to Turn 13 and they have to be progressive with the throttle, or risk snap oversteer.

Unique difficulty Aerodynamics. The thin air allows cars to run similar wing levels to the Singapore Grand Prix, yet they produce 10 per cent less downforce than at Monza – the lowest downforce track of the year. As a result, the cars produce very little drag and are spectacularly quick along the 1.3km/0.8-mile pit straight. The drivers are on full throttle for 15s and top speeds peak at 354km/h (220mph) just prior to the braking zone.

Race Engineer’s Lowdown

Braking The cars spend 16s per lap on the brakes. The hardest deceleration is into Turn One, where the cars slow from 354km/h (220mph) to 106km/h (66mph) in just 70 metres, with a peak longitudinal force of 4.2g. The high altitude makes brake cooling one of the trickiest engineering conundrums of the season.

Power The cars use 1.4kg of fuel per lap, with 47 per cent spent on full throttle.

Aero High downforce. The cars run maximum downforce yet produce less aerodynamic grip than at Monza, due to the thinner air at high altitude. The reduced drag from the cars results in some of the highest top speeds of the year along the pit straight.

Fernando Alonso: “I’m looking forward to being in Mexico in a few days. Fans always welcome us in such a warm and enthusiast way, and once again we’ll be visiting around the ‘day of the dead’ time, when the whole city seems to be celebrating.

“The atmosphere at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is also unique, especially in the Stadium section, where the view is overwhelming and you get so close to the fans that you can even hear them roaring when you drive through.

“I want to put the disappointing race in Austin behind me as quickly as possible, so I can’t wait to be in the car again in three days.”

Stoffel Vandoorne: “The track in Mexico is very special because of the altitude. We all run maximum downforce, but because of the altitude it actually makes it lower than Monza. That makes the cars very tricky to drive. We will also return to the Hypersoft tyre this year, so it’ll be interesting to see how that behaves.

“The Stadium section is amazing – I remember the fans last year were going crazy there. It was a packed race and they were cheering for everyone as they drove through, which made for a great atmosphere.

“Mexico City is a cool place. Everyone is really friendly and the food is great too. I’m looking forward to a fun weekend and hopefully some positive results on track.”

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: “From one great grand prix venue to another, we go to Mexico on the back of a busy week in Austin. Back-to-back races are never easy, particularly for the crew when we have to repair a lot of damage.

“The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is somewhat unique in many ways, not least because of the high altitude and one of the longest straights on the calendar, which present several challenges for the engineers both on the engine side and the chassis. In the past, this layout has provided exciting races with lots of overtaking, and I expect this year’s Mexican Grand Prix to be no different.

“Lando will once again be in the car in FP1 on Friday morning, and will gain valuable experience of another new track.

“We go into the weekend with the same mindset as ever, undeterred by our most recent results and with a sharp focus on maximising our potential, which is all can influence.”