After years of rumours, Formula 1 returned to Mexico City in 2015 with a capacity crowd lining the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez track. The high altitude circuit has provided plenty of memorable moments during its three stints in the sport.
|FIRST F1 RACE||1962|
|TRACK LENGTH||2.747 miles|
|NUMBER OF LAPS||70|
|NUMBER OF TURNS||17|
|MOST POLES||Jim Clark (4)|
|MOST WINS||Max Verstappen (5)|
Mexico became familiar with motorsport in the early 1950s when the road race Carrera Panamericana began to be held. The rally was widely regarded as the most dangerous anywhere in the world, and regularly attracted racing stars from Formula 1. There was at least one fatality in every running of the race between 1950 and 1954, including the controversial death of a vulture in the 1952 event.
It wasn’t long before the country wanted its own permanent international racing circuit, and so one was built in the Magdalena Mixhuca area of Mexico City. The building of the track coincided with the rise of the Rodriguez brothers, Ricardo and Pedro, hence the desire for a Mexican Grand Prix was strong.
The race was run as a non-championship round in 1962. Ricardo Rodriguez, who was just nineteen, was a Ferrari driver but, as the event was a non-championship round, Ferrari declined to enter and instead Rodriguez entered in a Rob Walker Racing Lotus car. His presence in the event was enough to fill the grandstands. There was to be a tragic outcome though, as Rodriguez crashed at the ferocious Peraltada corner and died as a result.
The circuit was found to not be at fault for the crash, so the event gained championship status in 1963. By this time, the younger Pedro Rodriguez had reached Formula 1. It wasn’t until 1970 that Rodriguez had a genuine shot at winning the Mexican Grand Prix, and fans flocked to the circuit in anticipation. There was controversy, however, as some fans climbed over the barriers and sat on the grass verges on the side of the track. The race went ahead, and luckily no-one was injured. Jacky Ickx won the Grand Prix, but Formula 1 would not return to the track until the mid-eighties. The track’s downfall was that officials were unable to control the masses of fans.
In the intervening years, the track was renamed in honour of the Rodriguez brothers. Pedro’s life was tragically cut short, just like his brother’s, following a crash in an Interserie sports car race in Germany. It became known as Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
When F1 returned in 1986, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was rough and bumpy and even caught superstar Ayrton Senna out on a number of occasions. The circuit had been altered slightly, but remained popular with drivers, despite the bumps. The Mexican Grand Prix provided plenty of memorable moments over its second stint in the sport. With complaints about air pollution, and the declining standard of the track surface, Formula 1 last visited in 1992.
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez laid largely dormant for the next decade, aside from national racing events, until the ChampCar series came to the track in 2002. NASCAR also began visiting the track in 2005 and A1GP followed in 2007, and returned in 2008. During this time, rumours swirled of F1’s return to Mexico.
In 2003, plans for a track to be built near Cancún to host F1 were mooted, but the track never came to fruition. In 2005, more rumours came of the return of the Mexican Grand Prix for 2006, but again these were false. In 2006, Bernie Ecclestone claimed the race would return for the 2009 season, but once again the season came and went without a Mexican round.
In May 2012, it was announced that the Mexican Grand Prix would return to the F1 calendar at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez track for the 2013 season, replacing the European Grand Prix. The race did not materialise. The Mexican round was then included on the provisional 2014 calendar, but removed by the time the final calendar emerged. Eventually, the Mexican Grand Prix was featured on the final 2015 F1 calendar in December 2014.
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was partially altered by Hermann Tilke ahead of its return to the F1 calendar in 2015. A new main grandstand was built, along with new garages and a control tower. The iconic Peraltada corner was gone, but in its place was an equally impressive stadium section of the track. Turns 13, 14 and 15 run through a baseball stadium, with thousands of fans cheering their favourite drivers toward the end of the lap. From there, the track joins with the original end section of the Peraltada corner, before sweeping around to the start/finish straight.
Formula 1’s return to Mexico was instantly hailed as a success, as hundreds of thousands of Mexican fans flocked to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. In a sport which is always searching for a new market, it was refreshing to return to a former market and see the sport still so highly regarded despite its 23 year absence.
Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez signed a new contract in 2022, extending its deal to host the Mexico City Grand Prix until at least 2025.
LEARN MORE ABOUT AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ
- The baseball stadium which Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez runs through is named the Foro Sol, and had played host to musical acts such as Madonna, U2, Coldplay, The Killers and One Direction.
- Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is at the highest altitude seen all season, at 2,200 metres above sea level. The high altitude circuit can cause a decrease in engine performance. The thinner air also makes this Grand Prix more physically demanding for the drivers.
- Unusually, the podium isn’t located in the pit area at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but is instead at the stadium section of track, allowing the drivers to celebrate in front of 30,000 fans.
- 54% of the lap at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is spent at full throttle.
- Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has room for 150,000 fans, with over 300,000 expected on a Grand Prix weekend. A record crowd of over 400,000 attended in 2023.
- It takes 18 seconds to make a pit-stop at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
- John Surtees clinched the championship at this track in 1964.
- Michael Schumacher took his first F1 podium at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 1992.
- The final turn at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the latter half of the old Peraltada corner, was named in honour of Nigel Mansell in 2015.
2022 MEXICO CITY GRAND PRIX RECAP
Verstappen cruised to a record-breaking 14th win of the season in the 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc crashed out in Free Practice 2 at the Mexico City Grand Prix, wrecking his Ferrari. The Monegasque driver didn’t have the best Saturday either, managing to qualify only seventh on the grid. It was Max Verstappen who took pole position, with the two Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton setting the second and third fastest times. Sergio Perez lined up fourth for his home Grand Prix.
Verstappen led away at the start, as Hamilton passed Russell for second place – narrowly avoiding contact – while Perez also made it past Russell on the opening lap. There were a number of side-by-side battles further down the order in the opening stages – one seeing both Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly running wide off the circuit. Gasly picked up a time penalty for gaining an advantage in that incident.
While Hamilton reported his tyres were OK, Verstappen was not particularly happy with his and was first of the frontrunners to stop on Lap 26. Hamilton pitted four laps later. While Verstappen switched to mediums, Hamilton opted for the hard compound.
Esteban Ocon pulled off an impressive move on Valtteri Bottas as the race reached its halfway point, while Hamilton reported that his hard tyres were not in optimal condition. Daniel Ricciardo made contact with Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri. The incident saw Ricciardo handed a time penalty, while Tsunoda was eliminated from the race.
Despite his penalty, Ricciardo picked up the Driver of the Day accolade, performing a fine comeback drive after his final stop to finish seventh. An unhappy Fernando Alonso retired six laps from the end of the race with engine issues.
In the end it was a familiar podium, with the top three finishing in the same positions as they had done in the 2021 race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Verstappen cruised to a record-breaking 14th win of the season, while Hamilton finished second and Perez secured another home podium result.
2021 MEXICO CITY GRAND PRIX RECAP
Max Verstappen took another step closer to a maiden title win at the 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix, while team-mate Sergio Perez took a popular home podium finish.
While the dusty track conditions at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez caused some drivers issues early on in the Mexico City Grand Prix weekend, Sergio Perez was looking speedy and set the fastest lap time in final practice. The thin air at the altitude of Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez suited the Honda engines but come qualifying it was Mercedes on top.
Lance Stroll brought out the red flags with a crash on the main straight in Q1 but it was a relatively drama free Saturday afternoon as Valtteri Bottas took pole position. Both Perez and Max Verstappen’s fastest laps were disrupted by Yuki Tsunoda, leaving Lewis Hamilton to join his team-mate on the front row.
Bottas, Hamilton and Verstappen went side by side into Turn 1, with the latter coming out on top. Things went from bad to worse for Bottas, who was spun by Daniel Ricciardo. The resulting carnage saw both Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher eliminated from the race, with the Safety Car being called out.
Verstappen comfortably led from the restart. He never relinquished his lead aside from when Perez led for a brief period following his team-mate’s pit stop. Perez closed in on Hamilton towards the end of the race, with his supporters on their feet willing him to make a move. Perez could not find a way past, but still made history and became the first Mexican driver to finish on the podium at his home race.
2019 MEXICAN GRAND PRIX RECAP
Max Verstappen’s misdemeanours in qualifying saw him relegated from pole position. Charles Leclerc inherited the pole, but it was Lewis Hamilton who won, taking one step closer to a sixth World Championship win.
In qualifying for the Mexico Grand Prix at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Valtteri Bottas crashed in the closing stages at the final corner, bringing out the yellow flags. Max Verstappen, who had already secured pole position, failed to back off while trying to improve his lap time and was handed a three-place grid penalty for ignoring the yellow flags. That promoted Charles Leclerc to pole position, with team-mate Sebastian Vettel alongside him on the front row.
Leclerc made a good start as Lewis Hamilton attempted to pass Vettel. Hamilton had nowhere to go and was squeezed by Verstappen through the opening corners, with the pair running across the grass. At the front, the two Ferrari drivers made light contact. Bottas and Verstappen battled for seventh place, with Verstappen picking up a puncture.
Sergio Perez gave the partisan crowd something to cheer about in a fight with Daniil Kvyat. He went on to equal his best result at the circuit with seventh place.
Lando Norris was having a good afternoon, until his pit stop, when he left the box with a loose tyre. Hamilton pitted for hard tyres to see him through to the end of the race. Vettel inherited the lead until he himself pitted for Hard tyres, while Leclerc came in for the same compounds six laps later but suffered a slow stop,
On the last lap, Kvyat made contact with Nico Hulkenberg, sending the Renault driver into a spin. The Toro Rosso driver received a post-race penalty for the incident. At the front, Hamilton was able to stay ahead of Vettel, while Bottas completed the podium finishers.
2018 MEXICAN GRAND PRIX RECAP
Daniel Ricciardo took a final pole for Red Bull but team-mate Max Verstappen took victory as Lewis Hamilton secured his fifth Drivers’ Championship.
In an exciting qualifying session at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Daniel Ricciardo took pole by just 0.026 seconds from his team-mate; who was far from happy with the result. Lewis Hamilton started from third with the title up for grabs, while Sebastian Vettel started fourth.
At the start, Hamilton made a great start as Verstappen assumed the lead and Ricciardo dropped to third. Vettel was last of the leaders to come in for his first pit-stop, emerging behind the leading three drivers once again, but he soon passed Ricciardo for the final podium spot and then slid past Hamilton for second. There were unhappy faces at Force India as Sergio Perez retired from his home Grand Prix for the first time.
No sooner had Ricciardo made his way back up to third than his engine gave up and he became another unhappy retirement. With the roles reversed from Saturday, Verstappen emerged as the winner with the Ferrari pair completing the podium. It was Hamilton who took the headlines though, with a fourth place finish being all he needed to be crowned World Champion for a fifth time.
AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ WINNERS AND POLESITTERS
|Year||Polesitter||Team On Pole||Winner||Winning Team|
|1963||Jim Clark||Lotus||Jim Clark||Lotus|
|1964||Jim Clark||Lotus||Dan Gurney||Brabham|
|1965||Jim Clark||Lotus||Richie Ginther||Honda|
|1966||John Surtees||Cooper||John Surtees||Cooper|
|1967||Jim Clark||Lotus||Jim Clark||Lotus|
|1968||Jo Siffert||Lotus||Graham Hill||Lotus|
|1969||Jack Brabham||Brabham||Denny Hulme||McLaren|
|1970||Clay Regazzoni||Ferrari||Jacky Ickx||Ferrari|
|1986||Ayrton Senna||Lotus||Gerhard Berger||Benetton|
|1987||Nigel Mansell||Williams||Nigel Mansell||Williams|
|1988||Ayrton Senna||McLaren||Alain Prost||McLaren|
|1989||Ayrton Senna||McLaren||Ayrton Senna||McLaren|
|1990||Gerhard Berger||McLaren||Alain Prost||Ferrari|
|1991||Riccardo Patrese||Williams||Riccardo Patrese||Williams|
|1992||Nigel Mansell||Williams||Nigel Mansell||Williams|
|2015||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes|
|2016||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes|
|2017||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|2018||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|2019||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes|
|2021||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|2022||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|2023||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|