Analysis: Will Formula 1's Mexican Grand Prix revival be a success?

Ahead of the revival of Formula 1's Mexican Grand Prix, F1 Racing's associate editor JAMES ROBERTS was among selected media invited to check progress on the revised Mexico City circuit

Analysis: Will Formula 1's Mexican Grand Prix revival be a success?

The old circuit, reminiscent of Monza, lies in a public park close to the centre of the sprawling, vibrant capital of Mexico City.

It's expected the 110,000 capacity venue, accessible by two metro stations, will be a sell-out for the race in October.

The old pits had been demolished and construction had begun in earnest on the new facilities by our visit.

Not all of the track had been remodelled, but with 10 months before the race, there is plenty of time to throw more resources and personnel at the project.

Financed by private companies, plus money from the state and federal governments, an estimated $300million has been put into the redevelopment of the track - and with a five-year F1 deal, investors will be expecting a return on their spend.

They surely will get that, given the interest and enthusiasm for a grand prix in this region - thanks largely to having a Mexican driver on the grid.

Sergio Perez's father, Antonio, said fans had queued since 5am to catch a glimpse of their "national hero" Checo that day.

Despite the changes to the old circuit, it feels right that F1 is returning to a circuit (and a country) that is steeped in motor racing history.

This isn't a bland Tilke-drome on the outskirts of a city where no one knows anything about the sport. This is a track surrounded by 21 million people who are in love with F1.

WHY PERALTADA IS NO MORE

The biggest challenge is to retain that old Monza-style magic with a facility that is acceptable to modern safety standards.

Many will mourn the loss of the fearsome final corner, Peraltada, but the buildings right behind the curve means there is zero run-off. The FIA would never allow a circuit to be signed off on safety with a hard concrete wall on the exit of a 300km/h (186mph) corner.

"The biggest question we get asked is 'why did you have to change it?'" says architect Tilke's on-site representative Christian Epp.

"The Peraltada corner has a lot of tradition and is historic and we tried every effort to keep it, but it's really impossible.

"The safety measures today would not allow us, the FIA would not accept it."

"There is so much construction on the exit of the corner, you wouldn't be able to create any run-off here. So that's the explanation of why this section doesn't work."

Instead the track will wind around the grandstands of a former baseball stadium (similar to the Champ Car circuit from the 2000s, but with a tighter curve to ensure they are in the stadium for longer).

Perez was overwhelmed at the thought of driving into this section with over 25,000 fans standing and cheering him on waving flags.

Epp added: "What we have done is created a stadium experience and I think that when you ask the drivers at the point they turn into this section, with 25,000 people in there, it will be a very emotional moment for them.

"Also we kept the Esses, but basically we flipped them around. You see in Turn 9 there was no run-off there.

"So we had to move the track to a position where we can create that run-off. In essence, we keep the old Esses, but we accommodate the track to new safety standards."

The circuit bosses have also retained the oval - from the Peraltada to halfway down the start/finish straight - for the local Mexican NASCAR series (of which Perez's brother Antonio is a champion) and that has its own headaches for the construction staff as it runs in the opposite direction to the grand prix circuit.

The return of the Mexican Grand Prix is long overdue, but with a new star in Perez, there is plenty of appetite for this race to be a success.

And with the colourful and wild Mexico City surrounding the track, F1 is going to love heading back to Mexico this autumn.

shares
comments
Formula 1 technical insight: 2015 Lotus E23
Previous article

Formula 1 technical insight: 2015 Lotus E23

Next article

Red Bull opts for late car build ahead of 2015 F1 testing

Red Bull opts for late car build ahead of 2015 F1 testing
Load comments
The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Plus

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher Plus

The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay Plus

Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax Plus

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021