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Mexican Grand Prix 2017: Circuit and strategy preview

We go from Austin to Mexico City for the third last race of the 2017 season. Who does this track suit most?


The Mexican GP has always been a race that’s struggled to find its place on the calendar. Since its introduction in 1962 it has only been held 18 times. It was at the Magdalena Mixhuca from 1962-70, and then Hermanos Rodríguez from 1986-92 before returning to the same track in 2015. Since then, it’s been an all Mercedes affair with Nico Rosberg (2015) and Lewis Hamilton (2016) taking all the plaudits. 

The increased interest in Formula 1 in Mexico can be credited to Sergio Perez’s consistent performances since his debut in 2011. Hopefully, it can become a mainstay of the F1 calendar as the unique construction of the circuit creates an atmosphere where the fans are far more up close than other circuits as showcased by the beautiful last sector. 

The 2016 Mexican GP was a weekend dominated by Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team. The team locked out the front row (with Hamilton taking pole) and then went on to occupy the top two steps on the podium with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo round out the top 3 following Sebastian Vettel’s post race penalty. 

This year looks likely to be a much more exciting prospect with Mercedes and Ferrari being pegged back by Red Bull in the latter part of the season. It is also a track which is suited to Red Bull’s pace in high speed corners which is provided by their strong chassis. The second and third sectors are likely to be their strongpoints whilst the first sector will benefit the straight line speed of the Mercedes and Ferrari engines.

The back part of this season is first time this decade where there has been three teams battling it out at the top. Obviously Red Bull’s slow start to the season has left them a long way behind in the constructors standings but since the summer break they have closed the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes comprehensively. 

Overtaking Opportunities

Due to the large amount of corners that come one after another, this leaves the drivers with the minimum amount of space to overtake. The main overtaking spots are the pit straight and the run down into turn one, and then the straight leading into turn four. With these two being back-to-back it allows for the trailing driver to get closer to the driver ahead before setting themselves up for the overtake going into turn four. 

The hairpins at turn six and turn 13 are also potential overtaking spots for those who are willing to take the risk of trusting the other drive to yield and avoid contact. The key to overtaking in Mexico is to make sure you stay close enough to the driver ahead so you can make most of the two DRS zones. If the driver does this they are more likely than not to make the move. The Mercedes cars do have the advantage of added horsepower which assists them in defending against cars aided by DRS.

Strategy

The tyre allocations for this week’s grand prix has drawn a lot of interest from viewers as Red Bull have gone against the general consensus and opted to go with a more conservative tyre setup rather than favouring the ultrasoft tyres like most teams. Ferrari have also been conservative but not to the extent of Red Bull, whilst Mercedes have taken the most sets of the purple walled tyre out of the top three teams.

It is quite an interesting decision as Lewis Hamilton won last year’s race by using a one-stop strategy where he used the medium and soft tyres (medium was not an option this year). Judging by that, it seems there is a logical reasoning for Red Bull and Ferrari’s conservative approaches as it is more likely to suit race conditions.



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Pat Galic

20 year old from Australia who loves football, cricket and F1

Mexican Grand Prix 2017: Circuit and strategy preview

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