McLaren Mexican Grand Prix Preview

Circuit facts

Circuit length 4.304km/2.674 miles (2nd shortest of the season)Distance to Turn One 800m/0.497 miles (longest of the season)Longest straight 1.314km/0.816 miles, on the approach to the Turn OneTop speed 365km/h/227mph, on the approach to Turn OnePitlane length 650m/0.404 miles, estimated time loss 25s (longest of the season)Full throttle 47 per centDRS zones Two, on the approach to Turns One and Four

Key corner Turn Three. It’s the final right-hander in an ‘S’ bend, so the car is heavily loaded. It’s crucial to get the power down efficiently because the second DRS zone is located on the following straight

Fastest corner 260km/h (162mph), Turn 17Slowest corner 72km/h (45mph), Turn 13Major changes for 2016 None, except for maintenance work on kerbs and AstroturfFuel consumption 1.49kg per lap, which is lowERS demands High. The long straights use the ERS heavily, so the more efficient systems are rewardedBrake wear Medium. There are 12 braking zones, three of them heavy, and 27 per cent of the lap is spent brakingGear changes 44 per lap/3,124 per race

A racetrack was first built at the Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City in 1962. It hosted its first F1 race the following year, but lost the grand prix after the 1970 event, when fans broke ranks and sat on the edge of the track. The race returned from 1986 to ’92, on the renamed Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, before making another return in 2015.

What makes it unique The altitude. Situated at 2,200m (7,218ft), the circuit is the highest on the F1 calendar and that has implications on car performance. There is only 78 per cent of the oxygen available at sea level, which means the internal combustion element of the power unit produces less power and the brakes are harder to cool in the thin air.Grip levels Low. The asphalt was new prior to last year’s race, which meant it was oily and very slippery. Twelve months on, the tar will have cured and grip levels will improve as a result.

Run-off Good. Designer Hermann Tilke has included ample run-off on the re-profiled track. Where the barriers couldn’t be pushed back due to the topography of the surrounding area, at the Esses, for example, the corners have been tightened.

Watch out for… The end-of-straight speeds. The 1.2km (0.746-mile) pit straight is the longest in F1 and last year’s top speed of 366km/h (227mph), set by Sebastian Vettel, exceeded expectations. Given the amount of progress made with the power units in the last 12 months, could we see the fastest straight-line speeds in F1 history?The drivers on: the circuit

Fernando Alonso

“Last year we went to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez with a lot of unknowns and relatively little information about how the cars would perform on the reconfigured circuit. It poses a very different set of challenges to many other circuits because of the compromise you need between good downforce on the fast straights and also strong balance in the twisty stadium section – and then there’s the altitude, which affects performance in itself. It will be difficult to bring all of the elements together to get the best out of a lap, but I’m looking forward to seeing where our package compares to last year.”

Jenson Button

“I really enjoyed driving on this circuit last year. It wasn’t an easy track for us, but it’s a really rewarding layout for a driver. Although the famous banked Peraltada wasn’t included in the re-profiled design, the mixture of the very high-speed straights and the infield section at the end of the lap does give you a bit of everything and it really puts a smile on your face. We were definitely strongest in the final sector around the stadium so we’ll need to put those strengths to good use if we’re to give ourselves a fighting chance next weekend.”

Start time 13:00hrs local/19:00hrs GMTRace distance 71 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/53 laps)Safety Car likelihood High. A late-race Safety Car period last year is the only data that we have to go on for the re-profiled layoutTyre choices Supersoft/Soft/Medium, as was the case in Austin last weekend

The drivers on: the event

Fernando Alonso “Last year the support we received in Mexico City made it one of the best crowds all season, so the whole team is looking forward to going back there for the second time at this famous circuit. The buzz from the fans really makes a difference to the drivers, and, although we didn’t have a smooth weekend there last year, I still remember it as one of the highlight events because the whole experience was really enjoyable. Given how tough the race is on our cars, I hope we can achieve good reliability and enjoy a better result on track this time, and make the most of the incredible support.”

Jenson Button

“We’re very lucky that we have huge support from fans at all the circuits we go to around the world, but I can honestly say that the reception we got from the Mexican crowd last year was a feeling like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Every time you drove around the stadium section you could actually feel the roar from the fans from inside the car, it was unbelievable. I hope we put on a great show again this year and recreate that incredible atmosphere.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“We head to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez buoyed by a positive result at the Circuit of The Americas. Like in Texas, we’re looking forward to the incredibly warm welcome from the fans, who rocked the stadium section and downtown Mexico City over what was a very memorable weekend for fans, teams and drivers alike last year.

“Achieving a similar result to Austin at this circuit will be no mean feat. It’s a tough track for the chassis due to the high average speeds and big braking zones, and it makes the power unit – particularly the turbocharger – work harder than normal because of the high altitude.

“It will be interesting to see how our improving package fares on this challenging configuration, and I hope we can bring all of the elements together to see a more promising performance there than we managed last year. Saturday will be the most crucial day for us, as we need to give ourselves the biggest chance in the race, and we can only do that by maximising everything in qualifying. With the incredible support from the fans, we’ll work hard to give them a great weekend of racing.”

Yusuke Hasegawa,Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

“Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is located at the high altitude of 2,200m (7,218ft), which means that the oxygen in the air is very lean, and therefore the turbocharger must work extra hard to force air into the power unit. As a result, the quality and the efficiency of the turbo will be the key factor in the Mexican Grand Prix.

“At the same time, this track has a very long straight, so we need to consider the power effect while matching the power unit to the chassis. We had a very difficult race here last year, but we would like to maintain the good momentum gained in Austin, and also show our technological progress throughout this season. We are hopeful that we can once again target points in the race.”