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Welcome back to Prime Tyre, the FIA back in 2015. We are thinking it will qualify all my friends who got into planking in 2012.
We arrive at the Mexico City Grand Prix, the second leg of Formula One’s latest three-header. I’m Patrick, and Luke Smith will be together soon. Let’s dive in.
All eyes on the Red Bull in Mexico City
Sergio Perez’s fall from championship contender to distant runner-up (in the same supersized car as world champion Max Verstappen) poses a couple of questions for the Red Bull driver.
Is Perez worse than we thought or is Max good? Will the team tailor the car to Max’s needs or is Max good?
We can make this Occam’s Razor and go with the simpler option on both questions. Verstappen (in another world, the greatest driver of all time) can handle a lighter car on the climb, so the RB19 under the steering wheel isn’t that big of a deal. It’s unclear whether other drivers of Perez’s caliber will get the better of him this season.
I say this to preface the narrative of Perez and Verstappen this weekend in Mexico City – the site of Perez’s home race. The drivers, on their part, insisted on Thursday that there was no rivalry between them. (Racialists have launched a campaign against the two drivers, labeling them “racist”.) In addition, Perez has focused a lot of attention behind the wheel.
In third, Lewis Hamilton heads to Mexico with 39 points (thanks to Austin’s DQs). Even if Verstappen wins on Sunday (he’s won the previous two races here), Perez could take the P2 race with a podium finish. The home fans will go wild – one can already imagine “Che-co! Che-co!” Chants waft through the thin Mexico City air.
“I believe we’re back in contention,” Perez said Thursday. For the first time in months, he seemed to believe.
Demolition of Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
F1 in 2011 It returned to the Rodriguez Brothers Autodrome in 2015, but the track has six decades of motorsport heritage. Mexico City’s altitude (2,240 meters above sea level) presents unique challenges to any of the circuits on the F1 calendar.
Low air pressure affects engine power, cooling systems and low power. You know, essential racing stuff. Madeleine Coleman has a full breakdown ahead of the Mexican GP.
Mexico City Timetable
Follow all weekend with the Mexican GP live blog here.
FP1: 2:30pm ET / 7:30pm BST FP2: 6pm ET / 11pm BST
FP3: 1:30 pm ET / 6:30 pm BST Qualifying: 5 pm ET / 10 pm BST
Mexico City Grand Prix: 4 pm ET / 9 pm BST
Now, let’s throw it over to Luke for his latest first impression of Mexico City.
In the paddock with Luke Smith
“You look beautiful dead.”
Daniel giving his thanks here at the #MexicoGP pic.twitter.com/M0tlZTHKUi
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) October 27, 2023
For me, the Mexico City Grand Prix is one of the happiest races of the season. It’s impossible to walk into the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez and not feel a little lighter about the world.
Promoters in Mexico always do an amazing job of putting a local flavor on the weekend’s proceedings. From the taco stand in the paddock – I’ll be 95% taco by the end of this race weekend – to the giant piñatas drivers have the chance to smash to the artwork on the wall. Being here.
It makes for one of the noisiest paddocks of the season. But last year, it got a little too noisy. After several crowd issues last year – with fans pushing me off the road during media sessions to get selfies with the drivers – the promoters have reduced access to the paddock this year. Thursday felt calmer, but the days with track action were pretty crazy last year, so I’ll withhold judgment for now.
Some drivers took extra care, including Verstappen, who has two guards this weekend. “It helps make everything a little bit smoother on the track, off the track, traveling from your hotel and things like that,” Verstappen said. He also spoke of the “great reception” in Mexico. He downplayed his rivalry with teammate and country hero Perez, saying winning at home was his biggest dream.
The dynamic between the two Red Bull drivers has been amazing to watch this year, and this weekend could be a big moment. Perez reckons he’s taken a big step back from his recent slump, but will have to prove that against Verstappen, who shows zero signs of slowing down – and that’s unlikely to change even a great homecoming for his team-mate.
And now, F1 photo without context
Hamilton: Other US GP cars were illegal.
Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc’s US GP disqualification came two hours after the event, too late to get their reaction. So, Thursday’s media day building up to the Mexican GP is the first public reaction to the verdict for those two drivers.
Leclerc called it “a complete surprise”, and said Hamilton was “very hurt” to lose P2 and 18 points. On Thursday, we got answers to three DQ questions:
Media day of the week money value
“I was able to get golf lessons from Rory (Milroy),” Pierre Gasly said. “We did a putt test and somehow we beat him! … Well, I had a hole twice the size of him.”
Wrong hole @OconEsteban 😂
Introducing the “Rory Challenge” by @McIlroyRory ⛳️ #Alpine #USGP pic.twitter.com/EnEHCCVRqg
— BWT Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) October 21, 2023
outside the points
When I read Jeff Gluck’s message from the city this week, I thought that the people of Las Vegas are going through a lot. Construction, grandparents and obstacles everywhere!
Then F1 announced the opening ceremony of the Las Vegas Grand Prix: the nine musical stars, all 20 drivers, Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil. i know. Just in case you thought F1 didn’t take this Vegas thing seriously.
Finally, F1 Academy Champion Marta Garcia will move up the motorsport ladder to the Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA) in 2024. The fully funded trip fulfills one of the main goals of the F1 Academy. I call that a successful inaugural season.
(Lead image: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)