Mexico City Grand Prix: PreviewOctober 26, 2022
Haas F1 Team has headed from the United States to Mexico for Round 20 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the Mexico City Grand Prix.
The Autódromo Magdalena Mixhuca first played host to Formula 1 in the 1960s, with the venue – located in the eastern districts of the sprawling Mexico City – subsequently renamed in honor of Mexico’s famous racing brothers Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez. The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez has had three stints on Formula 1’s calendar and its most recent spell began in 2015, when it made a popular return to the schedule.
A year later Haas F1 Team got its first taste of the vibrant event, which is enhanced by the close proximity of the enchanting Mexico City, and the celebrations of Mexico’s famous Día de los Muertos, which takes place shortly after the grand prix.
The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez provides unique challenges to Formula 1 teams due to its high altitude. The circuit is located over 2,200 metres above sea level – and over a kilometre higher than the second-highest venue – which influences the power units and Formula 1’s capricious aerodynamics. Straight-line speed is often very high due to the lower drag, though the impact of DRS is consequently reduced, which can hinder overtaking.
The thinner air also means cars generate less downforce, which can lead to slippery machines through the esses that comprise the middle sector of the lap, while getting tires and brakes into the optimum window can be an additional challenge due to the altitude. The circuit’s showpiece is the imposing Foro Sol stadium, through which the final sector of the lap passes, creating a frenzied atmosphere across the course of the weekend.
Haas F1 Team racers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher both have prior experience in Mexico City. Magnussen entered the grand prix in 2016-19, including a brilliant last-to-eighth drive in 2017, while Schumacher’s first taste of the venue came in his 2021 rookie campaign.
Haas F1 Team Reserve Driver Pietro Fittipaldi will participate in FP1, in place of Magnussen, for his first appearance of the season, fulfilling one of Haas F1 Team’s two young driver obligations.
Guenther Steiner – Team Principal of Haas F1 Team
Just how significant to the team is the new title partnership with MoneyGram – as announced ahead of the United States Grand Prix last week in Austin? Do you feel it makes a statement regarding the intent of the team to continue to grow and build its commercial platform?
“To sign this partnership with MoneyGram was great for the team and it shows there is a lot to come from Haas in the future. This is just the beginning and we obviously want to build up the commercial platform but also the rest of the team. We want to get stronger and be here for the long term – I think that’s what it shows.”
More excitement followed in America with Kevin going on to score points in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix with a thrilling drive extracting the life out of his tires after a one-stop strategy played out. Talk us through the call and your nerves towards the end of the race.
“When Kevin said he thought he could get to the end of the race on the tires, we were thinking do you really think that can happen. Not only if the tire would last but also if the performance and degradation would not be too big and we fall back. We came up with a back-up strategy should that happen so we wouldn’t lose a lot of time as long as we got him in as soon as possible when we saw the lap times getting too high and put the soft tires on.
“It was quite nerve-wracking because we knew if we had to do that, we would fall back to tenth place, and we wanted to do the best we can. Kevin did a great job to put in fast lap times while not overusing the tires. In the end, we got overtaken on the last corner from Sebastian Vettel but it was an exciting fight. Sometimes even when you lose a fight, it was fulfilling that we made the decision to stay out there and we had the confidence to do that, so all in all, it went well.”
With a three-day attendance total at Circuit of The Americas of 440,000 and wall-to-wall celebrities attending throughout the weekend – just how positive is it to see the sport embraced live on-site and with COTA cementing its place as the die-hard fans favorite F1 track in the country?
“What happened in COTA was, I think, fantastic for the sport. To continue to grow and grow in the US, with COTA being the first race track in the US in modern day Formula 1, they’ve cemented their place. People love to come here, there is a lot going on around the race track and I had the opportunity to go and look around. It’s such a fantastic facility, I was speechless after it.”
This week’s Mexico City Grand Prix sees Pietro Fittipaldi return behind the wheel to drive the VF-22 in FP1 as part of the mandatory ‘rookie’ allowance. What’s going to be the plan with Pietro and what are his strengths having been in and around the team for so long and having raced twice back in 2020?
“First of all, it’s good to see Pietro in the car again. He’s already now an old member of the team and he comes around the world with us in case he we need him. We hope that we don’t, but if we do, we’re very happy to have Pietro in the car as we showed a few years ago. The plan is to do the normal tire program in FP1, which is what we’d do with our regular drivers. It’s good for him to be in the car again, just so that if we need him, he has a feeling for it but I’m sure Pietro will do a good job for the team.”