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Drivers hit record speeds in Mexico

30 Oct 2015

Formula One cars reached their highest top speeds of the season in the very first practice at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with Lewis Hamilton breaking the 360 km/h (223 mph) barrier on Friday morning in Mexico.

While the redeveloped circuit boasts a main straight more than a kilometre long, it is Mexico City's altitude that has the biggest effect on overall speeds. With the track 2,200 metres above sea level, the air is less dense - which means less drag. And while there is less oxygen in the air for the internal combustion engine to feed off, the turbocharger spins faster to compensate.

The upshot means some of the highest speeds of the season - indeed Hamilton's Mercedes clocked 362.3 km/h, or 225.1 mph, in the opening session. With track conditions set to improve, that figure may well increase further as the weekend progresses and teams hone their set-ups. 

By comparison, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen clocked 358.3 km/h earlier this year at Monza, which traditionally produces the highest top speeds given the special low-drag configurations teams choose to run at the Italian Grand Prix venue.