The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is named after Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez, two of Mexico’s best motor racing drivers who tragically lost their lives doing what they loved in the 1960’s.
The circuit is situated at the highest altitude on the Formula 1 calendar, being located at over 2,000m above sea level.
The thin air causes havoc with setups in real life, Monaco level wing angles usually equate to Monza levels of downforce around here. However, in the game, you don’t have to worry about that, but this track is far from easy to drive around.
The track layout has changed drastically since it was first added to the calendar in the 1960’s, thanks to a major redesign by Hermann Tilke before it was re-introduced in 2015. The circuit has played host to the last two title-deciding races and its place in the calendar means that it has real potential to produce dramatic races.
The turns 1-3 complex is situated after one of the longest straights on the F1 calendar, so it’s also one of the main overtaking spots on the track. It follows a DRS zone, so if you’re close to the car ahead through the final corner, you’ll be at least alongside going into T1.
You’ll be hurtling into T1 at 210 mph (338 kph),or even faster if you have a slipstream, and need to brake down to third gear beginning at the 100m board. Make sure you’re on the white line on the outside of entry before turning in, but don’t put anything over the kerbing, that will end up with you locking up.
Swing the car to the right and miss the apex of Turn 1, this gives you the correct angle of attack for Turns 2 and 3, which are much more important for you exit. Cut both of T2 and 3, but not much more than the red sausage kerbs, you’ll get a penalty for taking too much. The fastest technique is to lift before Turn 2 and power the throttle down through Turn 3, that gives you the best exit onto the next straight.
Traction is tricky out of Turn 3, especially since the car is always understeering you into the run-off on exit. be conservative with the exit kerb too, taking too much will land you a track extension penalty.
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Turns 4 & 5
Despite how they may look, you need to treat turns 4 and 5 as a chicane between the second straight and turn 6. As this follows the second DRS straight, turn 4 is an overtaking opportunity, whether you go to the inside or outside. I’d say the outside is preferable, as it gives you the high ground for turns 5 and 6.
You’ll be travelling at 200mph (320 kph) going into T4 and need to brake down to second gear starting at the 100m board. Clip the inside kerb but don’t touch the sausage kerb, the latter will unsettle the rear of the car. Squirt the throttle, shift up to third gear and then brake back down to second for turn 5.
Like turn 3, there’s plenty of run-off on the outside, but don’t use more than a wheel’s width, unless you want a penalty. You need to clump over the inside kerb of T5 to get a good line, this does unsettle the car, but it also scrubs a bit of speed off, which helps your exit.
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Turn 6 is effectively a long hairpin that spits you out into the esses. You need to be down to second gear once again for this one, brake when you’re maxing out third gear. Don’t worry about hitting the apexes here, I find that running a little wider gives you better traction going to turn 7. Be careful when getting the throttle back on though, it’s very easy to spin the wheels up.
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The esses through turns 7-11 resembles those of Suzuka, but they’re nowhere near the challenge of the Japanese track. Brake down to fifth gear at the 50m board and swing to the left, missing the kerbs on the entry and exit of the corner. Hammer the throttle down and power through turn 8, hugging the inside kerb but never placing a wheel on it.
Your anti-roll bar will be tested to the limits as you swing back to the left for turn 9, again, no kerbs, you don’t need them, yet. There’s a short break before going to turns 10 and 11, which are another high speed chicane and finish off this complex.
Scrape the inside kerb of Turn 10 and cut using all but your front right wheel for turn 11, you don’t need to even lift through this section in qualifying. The rear end is constantly wanting to spin you round, but in quali spec, you can take this section at tremendous speed. Beware of taking too much kerbing on the exit too, it’s easy to get a track extension warning.
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Turn 12 used to be the fearsome Peraltada, but that corner was far too dangerous for modern F1 cars, so the spectator-friendly stadium section completes the lap these days. Because of the incredible speed of the cars through the esses, you’ll be barrelling towards T12 at almost 200mph.
If you’re close to the car ahead, you can attempt to move into this corner, but because of the dirty air effect, this is unlikely. Turn 12 is a lot tighter than you’d think it is too, there isn’t a lot of room on the inside to squeeze through. Brake down to fourth gear starting at the 100m board and clip the inside kerbing. Run the car out wide before swinging back to the right for turn 13.
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Turn 13’s braking point is difficult to spot, because there’s fields of run-off on its inside. Despite this, the tight line is the fast line and you’ll need to clip the apex to be quick through it. Brake down to second gear when you’re maxing out fifth gear and crank on all the left lock you can manage.
Accelerate through turns 14 and 15, clipping the inside and exit kerbs as you go, the back end wants to get away from you, but you can control it with a bit of opposite lock.
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Turns 16 & 17
To get the best line for turn 16, you need to run the left front tyre over the inside of the kerbs, there’s no penalty for doing this, and there’s plenty of grip out there. Brake when you’re maxing out fourth gear and brake down to third gear.
Traction is a real challenge through Turn 16, be gentle, it’s better to not spin the wheels here, as a bad exit will leave you a sitting duck on the start/ finish straight. You need to treat turns 16 and 17 as one long right-hander.
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You need low downforce for the straights but also high wings and turn in for the corners. I found that 5 on the front and 3 on the rear gives you enough low drag and turn in to be fast through the esses and opening triple chicane.
The standard 75% on-throttle transmission and 100% off-throttle is the best around here, your camber and toe angles should help with the tyre saving. The camber and toe angles should be low to help grip but not all the way to the bottom angles, as tyre wear makes a 1-stop difficult.
You have to use the kerbs around the slower corners, so soft springs of about 2/3 are the best to kerb hop. There are some high-speed direction changes here, but the anti-roll bar can be set relatively softly at 4/4. The ride height is the usual 3/4 to help straight line speed.
There are some big stops here, but it’s also easy to lock-up, so 85% brake pressure is the highest you can get away with. 56% front brake bias to help as the rears are particularly easy to have issues with. 23.4psi on the fronts and 21.5psi for the rear wheels is the highest you can get away with without causing excess overheating.
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