Formula One

Mexico GP track layout, turns and DRS zones analysed

Mexican GP layout Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
Copyright: Moy / XPB Images – Photo by Icon sport

F1 will take a short trip to Mexico for this weekend’s Mexico City GP. Join us as we go around the legendary Hermanos Rodriguez circuit. You can also take a look at the F1 predictions and the odds for the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Mexico GP layout: A shadow of what it once was

Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is one of the most famous tracks outside of Europe. Built in 1959, the track was part of the F1 schedule from 1962 until 1970, and then again from 1986 until 1992.

After a 23-year absence, F1 returned to the Mexican track in 2015. But drivers were met with a significantly different layout for the Mexican GP. Gone were the medium speed, long-radius corners, replaced with some rather unremarkable slow, 90-degree turns. Most unfortunate of it all was the removal of the legendary Peraltada, the neck-breaking fast final corner that used part of the track’s infield oval.

The lap starts down the very long front straight. Because of Mexico City’s altitude, the cars reach top speeds close to 350 km/h despite running on high drag setups, placing the engines under a lot of stress. Drivers then go hard on the brakes for the Eses Moises Solana, a complex of three slow, right-left-right corners.

The cars then go down the long Recta Trasera before braking hard again for the turns 4-5 complex – Eses del Lago, a left-right sequence taken in second gear. After a very short straight, the cars go heavy on the brakes again for the turn 6 hairpin, a double apex right-hander taken in first gear.

Next up is turn 7, is a medium speed left-hander taken in fifth gear. Turns 8 and 9 come right after that – a right-left complex that drivers can take almost flat-out, requiring only a lift off the throttle.

The cars then continue into the 10-11 complex, known as the Eses. Drivers tap the brakes for turn 10, a short right-hander, before going flat-out through the turn 11 left-hander. Then, the cars continue down another long straight, which leads to the final complex.

Surrounded by walls and with a series of slow corners, this part of the track closely resembles a street circuit, and will ask a lot out of the brakes. Cooling can be tricky in the altitude, which makes managing this part of the track crucial in the race.

Drivers brake hard for turn 12, a tight right-hander. After going back on the throttle for a brief moment, the cars go heavy on the brakes yet again for the slow-speed 13-14 esses, a very tight left-right sequence. Getting close to the outside wall, drivers go through turn 15, an almost unnoticeable flick to the left.

Exiting 15, the cars go into the final two corners. The first one, turn 16, is a very slow and tight right-hander, with cars once again getting very close to the wall on the exit. Then, it’s flat-out through turn 17, a slightly banked corner that is the only remaining part of the old Peraltada.

Autodromo Hermano Rodriguez DRS zones: three long straights followed by heavy braking zones

Thanks to the altitude, the cars can reach some incredibly high top speeds despite running on high drag setups. DRS. combined with the two from the leading cars, can provide the chasing pack with a generous slipstream, making overtakes relatively easy.

The first DRS zone is located on the backstraight, between turns 3 and 4. This is a very long straightline, with a heavy braking zone at the end. Drivers will have lots of chance to overtake in this part of the track, using the slipstream down the backstraight before setting up an easy move down the inside into turn 4.

The next DRS zone is located on the straight between turns 11 and 12. Slightly shorter, this zone won’t be as helpful as the other two, but can still provide a good overtaking chance under braking into turn 12. The detection spot for this zone is located between turns 9 and 10.

The final DRS zone is located on the long main straight. Its detection point, which is also used for the first DRS zone, is at turn 15. With a massive tow down one of the longest straights in the calendar, drivers can easily set up a move under braking into turn 1.

Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez racing history

1963Jim ClarkJim Clark
1964Jim ClarkDan Gurney
1965Jim ClarkRichie Ginther
1966John SurteesJohn Surtees
1967Jim ClarkJim Clark
1968Jo SiffertGraham Hill
1969Jack BrabhamDenny Hulme
1970Clay RegazzoniJacky Ickx
1988Ayrton SennaAlain Prost
1989Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1990Gerhard BergerAlain Prost
1991Riccardo PatreseRiccardo Patrese
1992Nigel MansellNigel Mansell
2015Nico RosbergNico Rosberg
2016Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2017Sebastian VettelMax Verstappen
2018Daniel RicciardoMax Verstappen
2019Charles LeclercLewis Hamilton
2021Valtteri BottasMax Verstappen
2022Max VerstappenMax Verstappen

While the Mexican GP has seen some iconic moments, few of them will top Nigel Mansell’s legendary overtake in the 1990 edition. The British driver, who was racing for Ferrari, pulled off an ambitious move around the outside of Peraltada on McLaren’s Gerhard Berger, taking second place away from the Austrian on the final lap.

Twenty seven years later, the race saw an opening lap collision between title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Despite picking up a puncture as a result, Hamilton crossed the line ninth, which was enough for him to win the fourth title, with two rounds to spare.

In 2021, Max Verstappen had a lightning-fast getaway, moving past the two Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton to take the lead. A year later, the Dutchman dominated from the start, taking a comfortable victory.

What lies ahead for 2023

Verstappen, with four wins around Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, is the undeniable favorite once again. The Dutchman is currently riding on a three-race streak, which started back in Japan. However, it should be noted that the Mexican GP layout could bring the field closer to the Red Bull driver, as the track’s slow corners do not demand a lot of downforce. Mexico City also adds some extra spice because of the altitude. Engine and brake failures, which aren’t very common in modern F1, could be an issue this weekend, as the rarefied air makes it difficult to properly cool the components.

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