Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

How F1’s top teams adapted their cars to Mexico’s unique demands

The Mexico Grand Prix is always considered an outlier on the F1 calendar, owing to the altitude at which the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is situated. Here's how teams adapt to its challenges.

Red Bull Racing RB19 detail

Red Bull Racing RB19 detail

Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Giorgio Piola is the preeminent Formula 1 technical journalist. Born in Genoa, Italy, Giorgio has covered the F1 World Championship since 1969, producing thousands of illustrations that have been reproduced in the world’s most prestigious motor racing publications.

At 2285m above sea-level, the rarified air creates a significant challenge in respect of the car’s aerodynamics, cooling requirements and the performance envelope of the power unit.

Even Red Bull, which has rarely had to sacrifice aerodynamic performance by opening up its bodywork as much as rivals, erred on the side of caution in Mexico.

It fitted an additional louvred panel atop the right-hand sidepod bodywork. Its addition continues an asymmetric theme, as it has mostly run just one louvred panel on the right-hand side of the engine cover this season.

Ferrari SF-23 front brake disc comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 front brake disc comparison

Ferrari made a switch to a brake disc with more drill holes in Mexico, following the same decision taken by the Scuderia in 2022.

The 60 extra drill holes help to dissipate the heat generated by the disc and keep temperatures within a similar range to where they would ordinarily be, given the disparity posed by altitude.

This must also be considered a factor in terms of the heat exchange that occurs between the brakes, wheel rim and the tyre. Especially when we consider the bulk temperature of the tyre is important in both performance and degradation over the course of one lap for qualifying and a stint length during a race.

Ferrari SF-23 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 detail

Ferrari, which does tend to open up more cooling on its car, supplemented its maximum cooling louvre arrangement that straddles the sidepod and engine cover bodywork with additional cooling outlets that could be found alongside the ‘S’ duct outlet.

In addition, the left-hand side of the car was given more cooling priority than the right, with extra louvres present in the rear panel, whilst an additional row was present in the sidepod bodywork’s depression.

Meanwhile, at the rear of the car, the team had the option to run a Gurney flap on the trailing edge of the engine cover outlet, increasing heat extraction without the need to enlarge the bodywork. This is also a cost-effective method of increasing cooling capabilities, as it would otherwise need to invest in a one-off engine cover design.

SIDE BY SIDE

McLaren MCL60 front brake duct comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 front brake duct comparison

McLaren MCL60 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 detail

McLaren also opted for more cooling for the MCL60 in order to face the challenges posed by the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit.

This came in two forms, with an enlarged rear outlet employed at the rear of the engine cover, whilst a revised front brake duct scoop was also introduced.

The front brake duct scoop was not too dissimilar when compared with the specification raced in Singapore (upper left inset), both of which are considerably larger than their regular counterpart (lower left inset).

The size differential between the maximal and regular front brake scoops is not only noticeable in terms of the inlet scoop but also in the rear exit, with the bodywork width increased considerably. It requires a cutout be present to permit the pull rod the room required to pass through.

McLaren was also keen to tick a number of tests off in free practice one, as the team ran a different run programme to the rest of the field in terms of its tyre distribution.

This included the Kiel probe array mounted to the underside of the rear wing, as seen pictured, whilst flo-vis was also seen applied to the central section of the wing on a separate occasion.

SIDE BY SIDE

Alpine A523 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Alpine A523 detail

AlphaTauri AT04 cooling comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

AlphaTauri AT04 cooling comparison

Building on the theme of teams bringing new, enlarged engine cover solutions, both Alpine and AlphaTauri opted for this approach too.

In terms of Alpine, it opted for a new midsection engine cover panel, with deeper louvres that were employed as a means to help extract heat being generated within, whilst at the rear of the car a wider, taller exit could be found.

Similarly, AlphaTauri increased the number of louvres and the size of its cooling panel on the side of the engine cover, whilst the rear deck was increased in width and depth. 

Read Also:

Furthermore, the usual depressions in the surface were removed and a flat surface could be found in its place.

The team also used a ladder-style outlet array on the spine of the engine cover, which the shark fin runs through the middle of.

Be part of Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Why Ricciardo's F1 resurgence may have emerged at the perfect time
Next article What Mexico's "Racepect" campaign says about F1's toxicity problem

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe