GP Mexico 2015: Whiting gives the green light

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Route inspection by Charlie Whiting
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V 15 months have passed since the construction work on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez began. Now the renovation is finished. On Tuesday (October 20th, 2015) the FIA ​​race director took one last look at the reconstruction of the track. 'We are very satisfied with the work that has been done here,' was the positive conclusion of the last acceptance test. 'I expect a spectacular race.'

Recently there were some delays in applying the last asphalt layer due to the weather. But now everything is back on schedule. A week before the start of the event, all that are missing are curbs, route markings and the sponsors' advertising logos.

The organizers around General Director Federico Gonzalez and Marketing Director Rodrigo Sanchez can also be satisfied. The GP Mexico promises to be a complete success. Even if the World Cup has already been decided by then. Formula 1 fever is rampant in Mexico City.

The largest city in the world last held a Grand Prix in 1992. On a racetrack that was once called Magdalena-Mixhuca and was later renamed Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. In memory of the brothers Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez, who both had fatal accidents in a racing car.

Formula 1 in Mexico has a long tradition. This year it is entering its third epoch. Between 1963 and 1970, the final races took place seven times on the 5-kilometer circuit near the international airport. The world champion was crowned three times there: 1964 John Surtees, 1967 Denis Hulme, 1968 Graham Hill.

1970 the first era ended in a scandal. The spectators moved up to the edge of the track and could hardly be shooed from their seats by encouraging the drivers. Jackie Stewart ran over a dog 'big as a calf'.

Victory from 13th, the wildest overtaking maneuver and Peraltada

In 1986 the GP entourage returned to the Mexican metropolis. With surprise winner Gerhard Berger in a Benetton BMW. The other winners were Nigel Mansell (1987, 1992), Alain Prost (1988, 1990), Ayrton Senna (1989) and Riccardo Patrese (1991).

There was a spectacular victory for Prost from 13th place on the grid 1990, the wildest overtaking maneuver of all time by Nigel Mansell past Gerhard Berger in the same year and terrifying accidents for Ayrton Senna, Philippe Alliot and Derek Warwick in the Peraltada curve. That oneExaggerated 180 degree arc, which was full for the superstars and almost full for the second set. 'A curve for real men', judge the previous warriors.

The Peraltada no longer exists. Instead, a passage through a baseball stadium with a total of five curves. 'That will be the new landmark of our route,' believes the head of organization Gonzalez. 'The drivers will drive like rock stars into a stadium that will be fully occupied with 28,000 seats. And they will see the action up close.' From there the route leads through the grandstands onto the old Peraltada curve. And exactly where the apex used to be.

But there are other key points on the 4.304 kilometer long and for 60 million dollar renovated course. The 1,250 meter long home straight, on which the organizers expect speeds of up to 328 km /h. Or the series of S-curves that are reminiscent of Suzuka. It consists of 7 consecutive curves that get faster and faster. They begin after a hairpin, which is also framed by stands in a kind of stadium.

Added to this is the height of 2,250 meters above sea level. The naturally aspirated engines used to lose 15 percent power in the thin air. The turbos don't mind. The aerodynamics do. The downforce effect is less.

GP Mexico will be the second fastest race

The track builders expect lap times of 1.18 minutes and hope to be the second fastest race after Monza. That will be difficult in view of the two slow passages. The audience comes like that too. The original 80,000 visitor seats were sold out within two weeks. That is why additional grandstands will be set up for the comeback of the Mexican GP after 23 years.

'But almost all of these tickets are already gone,' said Marketing Director Sanchez. The GP USA may suffer from the race in the immediate vicinity. 'We appreciate that many of our compatriots are now watching the event on their own doorstep,' says Sanchez.

It will be an international event: 'We have tickets to England, Australia, USA, El Salvador and Guatemala sold. But of course the majority comes from Mexico. ' There are four reasons the Mexicans are bringing the premier league back to their country. The local government wants to present Mexico City as a city for young people and show that you are a good host.

The organizer sees the Grand Prix as a good addition to its other program of concerts or theater performances. Sponsors like Telmex and Claro want to give motorsport in Mexico a boost. And finally, Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez also sparked interest in the country. 'Something better than Checo's third place in Russia couldn't have happened to us. Immediately afterwards sales picked up again,' said Gonzalez happily.

The makers of the GP Mexicobut also know that the moment of truth will only come in 2016. 'This year it is the excitement of the new that attracts people to the track. After such a long break, people are hungry for Formula 1. And for many young people it is a completely new experience. Only next year will we know how sustainable the interest really is. '

In our gallery we show current pictures of the route and photos of the construction work.

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