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Mexico preview quotes - Lotus, Williams, Mercedes and more

29 Oct 2015

This weekend sees Formula One racing return to Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the first time since 1992. Those involved look ahead to the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Mexico 2015...

Lotus

Romain Grosjean

“It’s a new venue and it’s always nice to learn a new track. I can remember watching the Mexican Grand Prix when I was a kid, particularly with a memory of Senna going upside down at the last corner. It looks like the layout has more low speed corners now, but it still has a very long straight so there’ll be an interesting competition to see who can be the fastest there! It will be a first [time in Mexico City] for me so I’m excited to be going there. I’m sure we will all get a great response and I’m looking forward to experiencing the culture and especially investigating the food which is what I always do when visiting a new city. The city is very high but for me that’s a good thing as I was born in the mountains! I’m a big fan of skiing and cycling in the mountains too, so I think I’ll be pretty well prepared. I don’t think it’s going to cause the drivers any issues, but I know there are a few areas to give some different calculations to the engineers. It’s going to be different with the brake cooling and things like that, but every track has its characteristics so I’m sure we’ll get on top of it pretty quickly.”

Pastor Maldonado

“I think it’s going to be one of the most special races of the year. There’s certainly a lot of expectation and lots of great fans in Mexico. It’s a Latin American race so I think I’m going to enjoy it a lot. I think we’re all going to get a fantastic welcome and a lot of support. It’s a great country with great people. I love Mexico so I’m looking forward to it. It’s certainly very close to my home and the Spanish language is used so I’m looking forward to meeting fans old and new. It’s a big city so there’s a lot of potential for many people to support the event and I’m sure they will. I’ve never been [to the circuit] so it will be a new experience for me. It’s always difficult to make a call on a track until you’ve driven it in the car. The layout looks good with some interesting corners with some low speed and also medium and quicker stuff, then a very long main straight which makes up a big percentage of the lap. We’re certainly going to get some high speeds along there! It’ll be interesting to explore our potential.”

Federico Gastaldi, Deputy team principal

“I am expecting a fantastic event! I’ve seen the work that has gone on behind the scenes and I know the passion and enthusiasm there is for Formula 1 in Mexico. It’s a great country and a superb city with warm and welcoming people. We’ve been away from Mexico too long; it’s going to be fantastic to be back. Once upon a time we were called Benetton and we scored our first Formula 1 victory in Mexico in 1986 with Gerhard Berger. It was Gerhard’s first Grand Prix win, and interestingly he went on to score his and Benetton’s final Grand Prix win eleven years later, although that win was in Germany!”

Nick Chester, Technical director

“There’s one very notable factor about the location of the Mexican Grand Prix and that’s the altitude. Mexico City is located at over 2200 metres and surrounded by mountains, some over 5000 metres. The altitude of the track means less dense air. Previously, with naturally aspirated engines, the air density would make quite a difference to engine power, but turbo-charged engines are less affected by this due to their forced induction. The current generation Formula 1 cars also have electrical power deployment, with the energy recovery and subsequent deployment not susceptible to air density variation. The altitude isn’t only relevant to engine performance however, there is also cooling and aerodynamics to consider. The less dense air provides less downforce and drag than we would produce at sea level. Because of this we could see some pretty fruity speeds along the start-finish straight. Less dense air also means you can’t cool everything you want to be cooled as well as would be the case at lower ground levels.

“The start-finish straight is of a decent length which should allow the E23 to stretch its legs pretty well, then there’s a nice mix of different corner types over what is a relatively short track. The track is likely to be quite low grip and that coupled with reduced downforce due to altitude and a relatively conservative tyre compound selection will provide a challenge for getting the tyres in their working temperature range.

“It looks like there’s a decent chance of rain again. This will make things very interesting as drivers and engineers could find themselves trying to learn a new venue with the moving target of a wet track. A wet track is a pain for finding car set-up at the best of times, but on a new track this difficulty is compounded. It’s a new track surface so we’d expect the surface to be slippery event when dry. Add in potential rainfall and the oils which usually emanate from a new surface and we might have to approach the initial sessions pretty gingerly.”

Williams

Felipe Massa

"It's the first time I have ever been to Mexico so I am excited to go there. The track has a lot of history in Formula One, even though it has changed a little bit. I hear the tickets sold out in less than a week, so there is clearly a passion for motorsport. The track has a very long straight and some high speed corners, but also some very slow elements too. It is hard to say exactly what it will be like until we have driven it, but I am looking forward to it."

Valtteri Bottas

"The track and place is new to me, so I am looking forward to finding out more about both. I like spicy foods so that is one thing I am looking forward to. As a track it looks interesting with high and low speed corners and a very long straight. It will be interesting to see how the high altitude has an effect on the cooling of the cars but also its physical effects on me as a driver. I was too young to watch the race last time they were in Mexico, but the track has been changed. I hear there will be a lot of fans so I am looking forward to meeting them."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"Mexico is an unknown for us all. It has been a while since Formula One has been there but as engineers we are looking forward to the challenge. We have to bounce back from a difficult Grand Prix in Austin and we are confident we can do that. We have to make sure we take away all the points that are on offer and play to our strengths to maintain the gaps to our rivals in the championships."

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton

“Sunday in Austin is all a bit of a blur. The race was so, so crazy and it wasn't until a few moments after I crossed the line that I realised that I'd done it! To be honest, it still hasn't quite settled in. To match Ayrton in winning three titles was always a big ambition of mine and it just doesn't feel real. I can't express how grateful I am to everyone who made it possible - from my family to the team at the track and everyone back at the factories. I couldn't have done this without each and every one of them. Now, I'm even more pumped to get to Mexico. For many of us in the paddock - including the drivers - it's a new Grand Prix venue, and experiencing a new city and a new track is always exciting. Formula One has been racing in South America at the Brazilian Grand Prix throughout my career and the atmosphere there is just insane - plus we see thousands of Mexican fans every year in Austin. If they're anything to go by the crowds will be fantastic, so I'm really looking forward to seeing them all out there making plenty of noise. I can attack the final three races now with nothing to prove and nothing to lose, so the aim is absolutely to put my name down as the first Mexican Grand Prix winner of the modern era. After the Ushanka style hats we had on the podium in Russia and the Stetsons in America, I'm definitely hoping for a massive sombrero if I make it onto the podium!”

Nico Rosberg

“The Championship fight is over for me this year but I have three races left to make a big push, end this tough season on a high and make up for the disappointment of the past few races. My first chance is in Mexico and I'm sure everyone is really looking forward to the weekend. I love discovering new places and this one will definitely be a really interesting venue. If the Mexican fans we see in Austin are anything to go by, the atmosphere will be incredible! My father raced there once back in the 80's so maybe he can give me a few tips... although the circuit is very different now and so are the cars, so maybe that's not the best reference point! Data will be very important in Mexico, of course, as it's a track none of the current grid have driven before. Some of the more experienced engineers might know it - but the circuit and the cars will have changed so much since the sport last went there that it's basically like starting from zero. That's a big challenge and I'm looking forward to it. I've driven the circuit in the simulator to be as prepared as I can be, so let's see what we can do.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“The weekend in Austin was a very positive one for Formula One. On Saturday, we saw the paddock unite to put on a show for those fantastic fans who braved the weather to the very end. Sunday then produced arguably one of the most spectacular races of the modern era - not the easiest to manage on the pit wall, but incredible to watch as a spectator. A lot was said after the race about the relationship between our drivers and most of it was hot air. One of our boys won a world title on Sunday, and one lost it. If a few emotions boil over in that scenario, it's completely understandable and human. Like always, we will do the analysis of what happened on track as a team - but we will do it behind closed doors. We now head into the remaining three rounds with an interesting dynamic in prospect. We have a newly crowned three-time World Champion in Lewis, who fully deserved to retain his title this year and will want to cap off an impressive season in style. At the same time, Nico is embroiled in a close battle for the runner-up spot and will be determined to prove his mettle in the final few races before knuckling down for a fresh title challenge in 2016. As a racing fan, like we all are at heart, I am excited to see what the final phase of the season has to offer and hoping for an entertaining battle. We start with Mexico, which is a new venue to most of us and an important market for Mercedes-Benz. It's an exciting part of the world and we are all looking forward to our first taste of the country.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“Austin was a somewhat unorthodox but ultimately spectacular weekend. Now, the next race sees a famous venue returning to the calendar after a long absence. Mexico is sure to provide a great challenge as none of the drivers - and I imagine not too many team members in the paddock - will have prior experience there. The circuit layout is an interesting one, with long straights but almost exclusively low-apex-speed corners. Top speeds will be amongst the highest of the season - despite more downforce being required than at Monza, for example. This is aided by the altitude of Mexico City which, at over 2,000 metres, reduces drag effect. The rarefied air density will all make cooling a challenge, and also means the turbocharger compressor must work harder in order to deliver equivalent power output to sea level. With a freshly laid track surface also to consider, it will be interesting to see how the cars behave and how the order plays out. We're all excited to be tackling the circuit and keen to leave our mark on another historic Grand Prix venue. I was actually working at the last Mexican Grand Prix in 1992 and one thing that stands out from my memories of previous races there is the enthusiasm of the spectators. This is a country with a great racing heritage, so fingers crossed we can put on another spectacular show!”

Force India

Sergio Perez

“The races in Russia and the United States have been an ideal way to prepare me for the return of my home race. A podium finish and a strong fifth place have given me a lot of confidence ahead of the final part of the season. I think there is more to come from us and I’m really looking forward to the final few races.

“Having the opportunity of driving in my home Grand Prix is something I never thought would happen. It will be one of the highlights of my career and I have no doubt that this race will become a modern classic of Formula One. Mexico has a lot of history in motorsport: the fans know the sport; they have a lot of enthusiasm and have been waiting a long time for Formula One to come back. I think everyone will have a great time.

“Racing in Mexico is, of course, very special for me, but at the same time I should not let this distract me from the fact that it is another race in which I will need to give 100% to bring home a good result. I am incredibly motivated to work hard with my team to have another race to celebrate.

“I had the chance to drive a lap of the new track layout recently and it’s a fantastic circuit. There are quite a few changes compared to the old layout when Formula One last raced there, but I don't think the circuit has lost any of its character. The new section in the stadium is spectacular and it will be such an incredible emotion to drive through there for the first time when it’s full of fans. There are a lot of fast sections, but at the same time you have a combination of fast, slow and medium-speed corners that make for a very varied lap.

“I am also happy to see the final corner has been named after Nigel Mansell. He is a hero to motorsport fans in Mexico and I admire all he has achieved. Nigel won the last race in Mexico in 1992 and produced one of the greatest overtakes of all times there, so it is right that he has been honoured in this way.”

Nico Hulkenberg

“When you have a bad result, the best way to bounce back is to get back in the saddle immediately. The race in Austin was frustrating as I felt it was a missed opportunity to score a lot of points, but that's racing. I have to get it out of the system and at least I get to be back in the car after just a few days.

“This week should be one of the most exciting in the season for us with lots happening on and off the track. We have a lot of Mexican partners and I think there will be a lot of attention on us so the expectations will be high. When we visited Mexico in January for our team launch, the whole country was incredibly supportive and enthusiastic, and it was the same last week when I was there for a charity event. They have been waiting for a Grand Prix for a long time and I am sure the circuit will put on a great event. I have even been trying to learn a bit of Spanish ahead of the race - even though by Sunday night all I want to say to the local press is "una gran carrera!"

“I am really looking forward to exploring the new track. I have never really driven on it properly - I just did a handful of laps in a road car on what was the old layout back in January. I have seen the map and a few videos, and the circuit seems to have a nice flow. There are a lot of medium-speed corners which is something drivers enjoy and some big straights that should generate some overtaking opportunities.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal

“The race in Austin demonstrated the good level of form we are in at the moment. We have been competitive on every kind of circuit following the summer break and it was only some misfortune for Nico that prevented us from scoring well with both cars in Texas. Racing is often a game of maximising opportunities and we have been doing that only partially recently, but the next race is a good chance to realise our full potential.

“Mexico is, needless to say, a very important race for us. Checo enjoys a huge following in his home country and we have a large number of Mexican team partners, so we are determined to do well in front of them. When we visited the country for our team launch in January, I was delighted, but not surprised, by the support we received from the fans: we are proud to be welcomed as friends and will work hard to put on a fantastic show for everybody involved.

“We are now nearing the finishing straight of this season with our eyes firmly set on the objective of securing fifth in the constructors' championship. Being a new circuit, Mexico will provide additional challenges as we find our way to set up the cars, but we expect to be in our usual competitive position with the minimum objective being a good helping of points for both cars.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso

“I really enjoyed the race in Austin and it was definitely one of the most exhilarating races for McLaren-Honda this year so far. It was a hard fight, but we didn’t give up. I hope we can repeat some of those battles in Mexico, but we’re expecting a tough fight on a circuit that on paper won’t suit our car.

“It’ll be interesting as we have no data from there so the conditions are unknown, which makes it pretty exciting. Going to a new Grand Prix at a venue that the current generation of F1 drivers hasn’t been to yet is going to be something special, especially as it already has a great reputation since the last time a race was held there.

“From what I’ve seen of the circuit, it looks like a great design with some interesting corners, and the combination of a high top speed and new asphalt will mean getting set-up right from the first possible moment will be very important to get the maximum downforce. It’s an exciting new chapter for Formula 1 and I’m looking forward to seeing where we are this weekend.”

Jenson Button

“Austin was an exciting race and the mixed conditions meant we were able to race on a more level playing field with our competitors until the track dried out towards the end. If the weather stays dry next weekend in Mexico, we know we’ll have a much more difficult grand prix on our hands, so we need to take the opportunity to gather as much data as we can and work on maximising our strategy for our car’s performance.

“The circuit itself looks really interesting - I remember as a kid watching some incredible battles there and the drivers hanging onto their cars around Peraltada, which looked mega, if a bit scary! It’s a shame that corner hasn’t been included in the new layout, but from what I’ve seen of the track and heard from others that have visited, it looks like it’ll be a fun challenge.

“The altitude is easily the highest we have to deal with at any Grand Prix on the calendar, so that in itself will be something new for all the teams to work with, and the fact this circuit has the second highest top speed after Monza will mean it won’t be easy for us. Saying that, having good balance and downforce in the car will be crucial so we’ll get stuck in with set-up and see how we fare on Friday morning. I’m really looking forward to going to a new Grand Prix venue and hopefully we can learn a lot this weekend and put on another good show.”

Eric Boullier, racing director, McLaren-Honda

“We go to Mexico on the back of securing some valuable points after a dramatic weekend in Austin, and the Mexican Grand Prix promises a whole new set of unknowns as we get to know a new circuit layout at an altitude of 2,200 metres. It’s certainly an exciting prospect for the thousands of fans we’ll get to see over the course of the weekend.

“This will be the first Mexican Grand Prix on the Formula One calendar since 1992, but many of our team members will remember at least one grand prix held there previously, and those who don’t will surely have heard about the circuit’s great legacy. The Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez holds special memories for both McLaren and Honda: Richie Ginther took Honda’s first-ever Formula One win there in 1965; Denny Hulme won for McLaren in 1969, and together McLaren-Honda dominated the Mexican Grand Prix in both 1988 and ’89, at the hands of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna respectively.

“Although we have enjoyed past successes in Mexico, the 23-year break makes it feel like a new Grand Prix location, which always makes for a special weekend and a unique atmosphere as the form book is an exciting unknown. The characteristics of this track are definitely challenging, and it’s important that we get on top of set-up and tyre wear on the new asphalt as soon as possible. There’s a lot for all the teams to learn in a relatively short period of time, but, as a racer, I’m really looking forward to seeing how the weekend unfolds and hope that we see some great racing on this legendary circuit.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport

“It is an honour to be back racing at Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez, the track where Honda won its first F1 Grand Prix in 1965 with Richie Ginther behind the wheel.

“F1 technology, the circuit and Honda have all changed significantly since then, and this weekend's race will be a big challenge for all of the teams in the paddock. The track layout is new and we will all be working with newly acquired data gained from the free practice sessions. Plus, the turbocharger must work harder to maintain its usual output due to the increase in altitude, to push more air to the engine. Energy management will also be difficult, as the track consists of long straights and tight corners.

“As weather predictions go, the rain will be following us from Austin to Mexico City, so we will have to efficiently use the no-doubt limited running times to our advantage in car set-up. McLaren-Honda will work as one to balance both the power unit and chassis performance to its maximum potential to be ready for the race.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo

“I’ve only driven around the parts of the track that were finished in July [in a road car], so I’m not the authority on it! The very long main straight reminded me a little of Monza. And there are some flowing parts of the track which look quite interesting... but you can never tell until you drive a new circuit properly. It could go either way. I hope it’s fun!

“[Mexico City] was very cool. I love the food - I say that a lot don’t I? - and I love the passion of the people. It was quite a moment when we saw how many had turned up to watch us [at a Red Bull demo event] back in the summer, it really makes you do a double-take. I’m looking forward to spending more time there just so I can experience a bit more of the culture.”

Daniil Kvyat

“It’s always nice to visit a new place and to race at a new track. Mexico should be no different. The city looks nice - interesting culture and the food should be very good too.
“On paper it [the circuit] looks interesting. It looks like there are some good high-speed corners and the Esses section looks like it might be quite exciting. It obviously has a lot of history and they seem to have kept the old-school feel of it, which is good.

“I think Mexico has a pretty big heritage with Formula One and it seems like it’s one of those places that is really passionate about the sport, maybe a bit like Brazil. It should be a good weekend.”

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen

“Well, I’ve never been to Mexico. The track is new for everyone – I’ve only driven it on the simulator - so it will be very challenging and a completely new experience which I’m looking forward to. Hopefully the track will suit our car.”

Carlos Sainz

“I remember when I went there earlier in the year for an event with Red Bull I ate some really good Mexican tortillas… Okay, it’s something I won’t do as much this time as I am on a diet during race weekends, but maybe on Sunday night we can have some!

"As [the track] is new nobody knows much about it really. While I was there it was still being built, but it looked very good, especially the part of the stadium, it looks pretty interesting. I really like the city, I look forward to visiting it again!”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“It’s very exciting for us to come to Mexico, to a brand new circuit but one that is steeped in tradition at the same time. Nominating the compounds for a new track is not without its challenges, but simulation - one of the most important areas of growth in Formula One technology recently - is very accurate now, although it’s inevitable that we would incline towards a more conservative choice during the first year at a new track. As always, we are still aiming for two pit stops at the Mexican Grand Prix, but the uncertain weather that is affecting a large part of North America during the next week or so will clearly have a big influence. The track has been designed with overtaking in mind, so together with the different options for strategy that will become clearer during a very important free practice day on Friday, there is clear potential for an entertaining race that allows drivers to move up through the field.”

More to follow.