Both Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat have highlighted issues arising from the high altitude as being top of their thoughts heading to Mexico City this weekend.
The reduced air pressure means less downforce and reduced engine power and cooling for this weekend’s race, ensuring that the Mexican Grand Prix presents drivers with a unique challenge on the F1 calendar.
“The first day you arrive, you can feel you’re at altitude, but after that you don’t notice it anymore,” said Gasly. “It has a bigger effect on the cars than the drivers.
“We can prepare and train for it, but its more complicated for the engine. Cooling the brakes is a consideration and there is less downforce, so it’s the car that suffers more than we do.
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“We put a lot of downforce on the car and you do notice you have less grip as the aero effect is lessened because the air is less dense, so it can be strange.
“We run pretty much maximum rear wing, but the feeling you get is very different to what you would normally expect with that level of downforce.
“It’s always very good to go very fast in a straight line as that’s always exciting. During the race, I reckon we must see some of the highest top speeds of the year.”
Kvyat agreed with his team mate, and added: “The thin air at altitude has an effect on the PU and also the aerodynamics, as there is less drag. It means we hit high top speeds but also run a lot of aero downforce.
“I remember again the first year I went there, I noticed the altitude a bit, you feel a bit lower on energy the first couple of days but then you get used to it and it’s fine.
“It would be nice to train at altitude, but we never have the time as this is a particularly busy part of the season, involving a lot of travelling with long flights.
“Overall it’s an enjoyable weekend,” he added. “I have some good memories here and had a good result a couple of years back, finishing fourth.
“Mexico City is also where we have one of our usual team dinners and, as we head towards the end of the season, it’s nice that everyone gets together in a more relaxed way than at the racetrack.”
Gasly also gave the venue a big thumbs up. A favourite of teams and drivers, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez has won four-straight ‘Best Promoter’ awards at the end-of-season FIA gala prize giving.
“Last year I took a helicopter trip to visit a Honda factory,” commented the Frenchman. “To see the huge sprawl of Mexico City from the air is a truly impressive sight. The city seems to spread out forever.
“The whole weekend has an amazing atmosphere. I remember last year, during the Drivers’ Parade, I was in a car following Sergio Perez and it was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much support for one driver, with people shouting, cheering and screaming. It was madness.
“That stadium area is so impressive, with so many people in it and when they all start shouting it gives you goosebumps. The whole circuit has a big crowd and that’s great to see.”
Despite his enthusiasm for the event, it’s not been a particularly rewarding one for Gasly so far. He was 13th here in his first Grand Prix in Mexico in 2017, but he did battle his way into contention here one year ago.
“I’ve never had much luck there as I had to take engine penalties which dropped me down the grid,” he acknowledged. “Although last year I came from the back row to finish tenth and score a point!”
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