Both world titles have been wrapped up in favour of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes for a second successive season but any fears that the sport could languish in a ‘dead rubber’ should be extinguished as Formula 1 returns to Mexico after a 23-year absence.
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is the only ‘new’ venue on the 2015 calendar though in reality the circuit is about to enjoy its third stint in the sport. The parkland venue joined Formula 1 between 1963 and 1970 before returning for a seven year spell in 1986. Nigel Mansell won the most recent event for Williams in 1992.
The circuit has been extensively modified since the last Grand Prix but the identifiable layout remains intact. The pit straight provides one of the longest runs to Turn 1 of the season while the second sector is comprised of a sequence of Esses, prior to a section through the Foro Sol stadium, albeit at the expense of the fearsome Peraltada, which has been deemed unsuitable for modern use.
Car performance will also be affected by the high altitude present in Mexico City, with the circuit lying 2,200 metres above sea level. This will result in the power unit working harder to achieve the same performance due to the lack of oxygen compared to sea level (about 78%) while the thinner air will also have an impact on aerodynamics. A suitable compromise will be required to be found by teams during Friday’s practice sessions, with the situation likely to be compromised by inclement weather, which could affect running although not to the extent which it impacted proceedings in the United States.
“I had the chance to drive a lap of the new track layout recently and it’s a fantastic circuit,” says home hero Sergio Perez.
“There are quite a few changes compared to the old layout when Formula One last raced there, but I don't think the circuit has lost any of its character. The new section in the stadium is spectacular and it will be such an incredible emotion to drive through there for the first time when it’s full of fans. There are a lot of fast sections, but at the same time you have a combination of fast, slow and medium-speed corners that make for a very varied lap.”
With the title wrapped up, the primary battle is between Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg, who arrive in Mexico separated by four points in the championship.
The defunct Lotus team was the most successful at the event with four wins in the 1960s but out of the current outfits McLaren and Williams have triumphed on three occasions, with Ferrari victorious twice.
Pirelli has used extensive simulator data to prepare for the event but has adopted a cautious approach by selecting Soft and Medium tyres for the 71 lap race.
There will be two DRS zones – along the main straight and immediately exiting Turn 3 – but unusually the areas will be covered by only one detection point, which comes as the drivers prepare to exit the stadium section at Turn 15.
Timetable (GMT -6):
Friday 30 October
- Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
- Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 31 October
- Practice Three: 10:00 – 11:00
- Qualifying: 13:00 (60 minutes)
Sunday 1 November
- Race: 13:00 (56 laps or two hours)