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Mexico preview quotes - Manor, Renault, Haas, Williams & more

27 Oct 2016

From Texas the teams and drivers head rapidly south to the majestic Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Those involved in this weekend's Formula 1 Gran Premio de Mexico 2016 look ahead to the action...

Manor

Pascal Wehrlein

“On Tuesday I travelled here to Mexico City and it was really interesting flying over the city before we landed – so many people living here! On Wednesday I played football with a few of the other drivers and some Mexican professional players. We played on a pitch on top of a shopping mall; I guess there isn’t much space on the ground! It was a lot of fun and a nice way to get pumped ready for the weekend.

“Austin went well overall but we didn’t achieve our objective of finishing ahead of Sauber. They remain our main competitor right now and we have to keep them behind us for the rest of the season - especially in the Constructors’ table. It’s too early to know how well this track will favour our car, but I’m looking forward to getting to know another new circuit and finding a good set-up so we can have a nice battle here.”

Esteban Ocon

“[Mexico has] two big stand-out features I think. The first, that it’s a really fast circuit with long straights and one of the highest top speeds of the season. Also, the atmosphere - I hear it’s amazing, especially on race day. I can’t wait to try both of those things for myself!”

“[The city] looks really cool, but I think there will be less opportunity to explore. Austin was great because downtown everything is condensed into a reasonably small area. Mexico City is definitely not a reasonably small area! I was expecting ‘big’, but it’s still really surprising to see. So, I think the racetrack will be where we’re spending most of our time this week and it looks pretty cool, so I’m happy for that. It also has a lot of rich history, so it’s been nice talking to Dave (Ryan) and Pat (Fry) over the past couple of days about some of their stories from the ‘old days’. My engineer Juan is also Mexican, so as well as him knowing the track really well, I get great tips on where to find the best Tacos!”

Dave Ryan, racing director

“Only three races [left], but that’s still a lot of fighting left to do. We’ve done really well to maintain our position since Austria, but the shape of a Grand Prix can change in an instant. Although at the end of the race [in Austin] the Saubers finished 14th and 15th, for a time there they were running higher than that and that certainly focuses our attentions on the pit wall and also back at base, where we’re pushing hard to bring smaller developments to the car all the way to the end of the season. We need to optimise car and team performance at every step of the weekend and we’re very fortunate to have two drivers who understand that, right now, the best result for the team is the team result.”

Renault

Kevin Magnussen

"I've never been to Mexico before so it's going to be a completely new experience away from the track too. I've heard a lot about Mexico City from everyone that visited last year, especially that the fans are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I love Mexican food, especially if it's hot and spicy.

"I want to get the most out of the car and achieve the best result possible. We know the level of our car's performance so we want to get the most out of it at every opportunity. I've never driven it but I have studied the layout and watched some on-board laps so I've got a good taste for it. It looks good, but you never get a real feel for it until you get out there in the car. I know that the engineers say it was pretty slippery last year, especially early in the weekend which is what you'd expect for a new facility. It's going to be interesting to see how much it's improved over the past year."

Jolyon Palmer

"It's always fun to go to a new circuit, which was the case last year. It's got a particularly distinct character with the stadium section near the end of the lap, there's quite a few fast corners; it's a good layout. There's something really special and you feel the atmosphere. [The Stadium] is a very slow section, and to be honest it's not fantastic in pure driving terms as the corners are some of the slowest on the calendar, but you really feel the buzz of the fans all cheering and that really pushes you along! You go so slowly through there that you can properly appreciate and feel the enthusiasm. 

"Last year the event was all about the crowd; there were so many people and they were so enthusiastic. On the grid in Mexico was one of the most memorable moments of last season; that and driving through the stadium section – even in FP1."

Remi Taffin, Power Unit Technical Director

"The air is a lot less dense, which for a normally-aspirated engine can mean a loss in power of about 22%. With the turbo ICE we have, all that happens is the turbo has to spin faster. The energy recovery and deployment systems are unaffected too.  

"One area you have to pay particular attention to on the power unit side is the cooling as the less dense air is not only less effective for combustion, it's also not as strong on the cooling side too. You maintain the same level of power, so you have to dissipate all the energy. 

"There is no reason why we should not see the same sort of performance as seen in the last four or five races. We want both cars in Q2 and we really would like to have another go at getting into Q3 before the season is out."

Frederic Vasseur, team principal

"For all of us, points are the target, as ever. For our engineers and drivers, maximising the use of the tyres and making the most of our potential are the particular goals. For our drivers, it's having fast and consistent performances in qualifying and the race. The Mexican Grand Prix is an impressive event so we want to see impressive performances from everyone involved."

Haas

Romain Grosjean

“It was a great atmosphere [last year]. During the driver parade, I don’t think I’d ever seen such a big crowd than in the last part of the circuit at the stadium section. It was an awesome race with a lot of fans.

“[The track is] great fun to drive with huge straights and big braking – everything that I like. Every time we go to a track, it’s a brand-new track to us as a team. Even when we’re coming from a strong race, the next one could be difficult. I always prefer not to have any expectations and see how it goes. With Mexico’s long straight line, that could be to our advantage.

“I wasn’t really happy with the race in Mexico last year. I managed to get into the top-10, but I thought with the performance we could have done better. We were struggling with the brakes because of the altitude, which cost us a little bit. But yes, it was a great end to the season and I managed to score points in the last three races. I’m hoping for the same this year.”

Esteban Gutierrez

“It’s a very special week for my whole career. It’s probably one of the best two weeks of my career because it represents so much to racing, to motorsports in Mexico in general, and to me. It’s a kind of connection where I can share my passion for racing and what I do with all Mexicans. I feel grateful for their support.

“Last year was great. I could live the event from a different perspective, but now it will be even better when I will be racing there. I’m very excited to enjoy that.

“It will be important to do the best we can with our car. It’s a track we believe can suit the style of our car, and we’re hoping that will be the case. It’s going to be important to have as much track time as possible to adapt to the circuit.”

Guenther Steiner, team principal

“Having a local hero on the race team is always a good thing to have for Haas Automation and for Telcel. In Mexico, he’s one of the most famous sportsmen and it helps attract a lot of attention.

“[The atmosphere at last year’s race] was fantastic. There were a lot of people and everything was sold out. I was told they had to build more grandstands to meet the demand for tickets. It’s a very nice event and this is what’s fantastic about F1. You still get tens of thousands of people coming to an event, which is very difficult these days. I hope the same happens this year.

“[The track is] a one-off on the year. The cooling is very challenging. You need to run maximum cooling, maximum downforce, even with it being a fast track. The engine, for sure, has to work harder. We know that and everyone has the same problem. We all fight the same circumstances.”

Williams

Valtteri Bottas

“Mexico was the best podium in my career so far when I finished third there last year. It was incredible to look out on the stadium and see how many people there were after the Mexican Grand Prix hadn’t been on since 1992, and the place was completely full. The atmosphere was amazing. It’s a big city with plenty of traffic on the way to the circuit – that’s the only negative I can think of, but at least the traffic is there and not on the track! The race is very challenging because of the high altitude. The top speeds are high, and we have less downforce. This thin air also means there is less oxygen, so as a driver it’s slightly more physical. It’s a very cool race track and I’m really looking forward to going back to such a unique location for a Grand Prix.”

Felipe Massa

“Mexico has some of the most amazing fans. In the last sector you really enjoy every lap you’re doing. You also have one of the longest straights in Formula One, where we achieved the record speed last year. In Mexico people really love Formula One, it’s fantastic to go to races like that. The city is very similar to São Paulo so I really feel at home there. I would say the Mexican people are very similar to the Brazilian people as well. It’s a great place to visit and to race.”

Pat Symonds, chief technical officer

“We still regard Mexico as a new venue as our rate of learning last year was rapid, but undoubtedly unfinished. That said, we were able to put one car on the podium here. Of course, the primary feature of the circuit is its altitude which tests the turbo charger of the power unit, as well as the vehicle’s cooling systems. The altitude is not only a test for the car, but indeed the drivers and the whole pit crew. Of particular note is the brake duty cycle, with this circuit now being one of the highest benchmarks we need to achieve. For the second time in a row, the teams also have to handle back-to-back race events as we continue through the busy final stint of the season.”

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg

“I came into Sunday with a good chance of winning but it didn’t work out. That’s the way it is, so I accept that and now it’s on to the next one in Mexico. My goal is to try and win there just as it has been at every race. Of course, to be in a championship battle at the end of the year is awesome and I’m excited about that. But my approach is to keep it simple. There are many things that can happen during a race weekend which are out of your control, so it’s best to just block all that out and focus on the job at hand. That’s what’s worked best for me and how I feel at my strongest. I’m excited to head back to Mexico City again. Driving the track feels like being back at a kart circuit with all the tight corners and the noise and the atmosphere in the stadium section is really phenomenal. Standing on that podium last year was one of the best moments of my career, so I hope I can get back up there and experience it again. We’ve got three races left to enjoy this awesome Silver Arrow, so I’m planning on making the most of every moment.”

Lewis Hamilton

“It was great to finally get that 50th win after a couple of tough weekends. I’ve just continued to keep a positive frame of mind, avoid dwelling on the past, work and train hard and I knew eventually the result would come. The moment you give up is the moment you lose. I’ve never been one to give up and I don’t plan on starting now. There are still plenty of points available and anything is possible. Next up it’s Mexico, which was a great experience last time out. It’s crazy how slippery the circuit is with the altitude giving you so little downforce from the car. It’s a big challenge, so even though last year’s race was a bit frustrating for me, I actually had a lot of fun out there. I’m looking forward to giving it another go and hopefully going one better this time. On top of that, it has to be one of the best crowds I’ve ever seen. There are so many people with so much energy and excitement for the sport in Mexico. The stands were full even on Friday, which was really good to see. I saw a few Mexican flags with my name on them in Austin which was awesome, so hopefully those guys will be there to give me that extra lift this weekend too.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Lewis produced an impressive weekend all round in Austin. After Suzuka, he went away, processed everything and came back stronger, which we have seen many times from him before. It was damage limitation for Nico, who is in a difficult position. He needs to look at each weekend at a time, which has been very effective for him this year, but also make sure he doesn’t DNF. The pressure is on both in different ways. Nico was very strong in Singapore, Lewis in Malaysia, Nico again in Japan and then Lewis back on top in the USA. It keeps bouncing between the two, so I’m really curious how it’s going to go from here. Then, there is the challenge from our rivals, which will intensify in the final few races. We were fortunate with the safety car in Austin. We had the pace - but Daniel [Ricciardo] in particular was very quick, so there is always a threat. The longer you leave the rules alone the more teams will converge on performance. Nothing in particular has changed on the chassis side over the past couple of years, so Ferrari and Renault in particular on the engine side have done a good job to close up to us. The game for 2017 has also already started, so when you throw all these factors into the mix we are looking at an exciting end to this season and the title battle.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“Mexico was a fantastic event last year, with a tremendous crowd that clearly loves Formula One and created arguably the best atmosphere of the entire season. I can still remember the band performing before the race as if it were yesterday! From a technical point of view, the key feature of this race is the high altitude at which Mexico City is situated - giving it an atmospheric pressure of less than 80 percent of normal levels. This brings with it a reduction of aerodynamic forces, both downforce and drag, while the turbocharged Hybrid Power Unit is still able to deliver its normal level of power. The knock-on effect is that this circuit is tough on tyres, as grip levels are very low, and tough on brakes thanks to high speeds combined with low levels of cooling and drag. So, there are a lot of things to manage through the weekend simply to keep both cars healthy. At the same time, it’s tricky for the drivers, as they are essentially running downforce levels equivalent to Monza at a circuit with significantly more twists and turns. That creates some headaches for them behind the wheel but also the potential for some great racing, so hopefully the crowds will be treated to just that. We’ll be focused on doing the right homework to make sure we’re in good shape for the race in terms of reliability and performance. Top of our list will be to maintain the best possible conditions for a fair competition between Nico and Lewis as the title battle builds towards an exciting crescendo.”

Force India

Sergio Perez

“Mexico City may be quite far from my city of Guadalajara, but I go there very often for professional reasons. It’s a city I love and there’s so much going on: the best restaurants, so many sights and so many things to do. It is a huge city and sometimes traffic makes going from one side of town to the other feel like an adventure! It is, not surprisingly, one of my favourite moments in the season and last year’s was special not just for me, but for my team and for anyone who came to the race.

“I have no doubt this year’s event will be even better than last year - expectations are huge following the success of 2015. For me, the biggest surprise was the passion of the fans: all the affection I received, all the messages and all the incredible moments I experienced are what really made an impression on me. I am so happy to go back there.

“The track itself is brilliant: my two favourite parts are the fast esses and the Foro Sol. It’s a very technical circuit, with some tricky corners: at the speeds we are doing, managing the car is very complicated and it’s important not to lose your rhythm. There is no key place where you can make or break your lap, except perhaps the slow section inside the stadium: you have to nail the combinations of corners to be able to string together a good lap. I am really looking forward to trying the track surface - last year, the asphalt was completely new, so this year it should be a big improvement.”

Nico Hulkenberg

“I am looking forward to going back to Mexico. Last year the whole race week was a huge thrill and you could feel all the excitement from the Mexican people as Formula One was coming back after more than 20 years. The happiness and enthusiasm were incredible, and the vibe we could feel was great - I had goosebumps the first time I got to the track and saw all the fans. I hope this year we’ll have a similar experience: I know what we had in 2015 will be hard to match, but I trust the locals!

“The circuit facilities are nice, even though the track is perhaps not one of the most challenging. The first sector, though, is fun to drive - Turns 1 to 3 make up a good combination: it’s a triple corner, quite slow in the race but exciting in qualifying, as it gets quicker with lots of grip and low fuel.

“The altitude makes our set-up choice interesting: we have a high-downforce package on the car, but the thin air results in a downforce level similar to what we have in Monza. The car feels loose and very floaty, and massively quick in a straight line: last year we went over 360 km/h on the main straight. We had a good result last year and hopefully we can go even better this year.”

Vijay Mallya, team principal

“We are really looking forward to the weekend in Mexico, a race that has already become a favourite for everyone in Formula One. Last year, the event felt like a huge celebration of our sport and we are looking forward to experiencing the same incredible levels of passion again.

“Off track, this is one of the most important races of our season. We have a large number of Mexican team partners and we are keen to get a special result in their home race. Of course, we also have the Checo-factor: we saw all the fans cheering for him in Austin and we know of the huge following he has in his home country, so we expect the majority of the people in the stands to be supporting us. It will feel like having a home advantage and we hope to contribute to a very enjoyable race.

“On track, however, this is a race like any other: we need to focus on our job and do it right to move one step closer to our objective of finishing fourth in the championship. The characteristics of the track should suit us and I expect us to be fighting for points.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Motorsport Director

“While the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is to all intents and purposes a new circuit, there’s a fantastic sense of history behind it, as the name suggests, supported by an incredible number of fans. The stadium section alone is one of the most electrifying experiences of the year. We raced here last year but there’s a strong possibility that the track has evolved since then. We’re also bringing the supersoft for the first time, so it will be important to assess all these new factors during free practice, which could present some interesting alternatives to the two-stop strategy that proved to be by far the most popular option in 2015.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso

“Last year we went to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with a lot of unknowns and relatively little information about how the cars would perform on the reconfigured circuit. It poses a very different set of challenges to many other circuits because of the compromise you need between good downforce on the fast straights and also strong balance in the twisty stadium section - and then there’s the altitude, which affects performance in itself. It will be difficult to bring all of the elements together to get the best out of a lap, but I’m looking forward to seeing where our package compares to last year.

“Last year the support we received in Mexico City made it one of the best crowds all season, so the whole team is looking forward to going back there for the second time at this famous circuit. The buzz from the fans really makes a difference to the drivers, and, although we didn’t have a smooth weekend there last year, I still remember it as one of the highlight events because the whole experience was really enjoyable. Given how tough the race is on our cars, I hope we can achieve good reliability and enjoy a better result on track this time, and make the most of the incredible support.”

Jenson Button

“I really enjoyed driving on this circuit last year. It wasn’t an easy track for us, but it’s a really rewarding layout for a driver. Although the famous banked Peraltada wasn’t included in the re-profiled design, the mixture of the very high-speed straights and the infield section at the end of the lap does give you a bit of everything and it really puts a smile on your face. We were definitely strongest in the final sector around the stadium so we’ll need to put those strengths to good use if we’re to give ourselves a fighting chance next weekend.

“We’re very lucky that we have huge support from fans at all the circuits we go to around the world, but I can honestly say that the reception we got from the Mexican crowd last year was a feeling like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Every time you drove around the stadium section you could actually feel the roar from the fans from inside the car, it was unbelievable. I hope we put on a great show again this year and recreate that incredible atmosphere.”

Eric Boullier, Racing Director

“We head to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez buoyed by a positive result at the Circuit of The Americas. Like in Texas, we’re looking forward to the incredibly warm welcome from the fans, who rocked the stadium section and downtown Mexico City over what was a very memorable weekend for fans, teams and drivers alike last year.

“Achieving a similar result to Austin at this circuit will be no mean feat. It’s a tough track for the chassis due to the high average speeds and big braking zones, and it makes the power unit - particularly the turbocharger - work harder than normal because of the high altitude.

“It will be interesting to see how our improving package fares on this challenging configuration, and I hope we can bring all of the elements together to see a more promising performance there than we managed last year. Saturday will be the most crucial day for us, as we need to give ourselves the biggest chance in the race, and we can only do that by maximising everything in qualifying. With the incredible support from the fans, we’ll work hard to give them a great weekend of racing.”

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

“Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is located at the high altitude of 2,200m (7,218ft), which means that the oxygen in the air is very lean, and therefore the turbocharger must work extra hard to force air into the power unit. As a result, the quality and the efficiency of the turbo will be the key factor in the Mexican Grand Prix.

“At the same time, this track has a very long straight, so we need to consider the power effect while matching the power unit to the chassis. We had a very difficult race here last year, but we would like to maintain the good momentum gained in Austin, and also show our technological progress throughout this season. We are hopeful that we can once again target points in the race.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson

“I remember the atmosphere at the track and especially driving through the section from Turn 12 to Turn 16, which made us feel like we were in a football stadium. The Mexicans gave us a warm welcome last season, and I am sure they will do so this year as well. Looking back to the previous race weekends, we clearly made steps in the right direction, but we still need to find more pace in order to fight for points.”

Felipe Nasr

“At the Mexican Grand Prix it was great to see the grandstands full of people in 2015. The atmosphere at the circuit and in Mexico City was just excellent, so I am pleased to return this year. I am confident that we are keeping working to improve the Sauber C35-Ferrari, in order to make further steps to be more competitive.”

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat

“I'm looking forward to Mexico, I like it over there! I remember there were so many fans that attended the race last year, it was crazy! I felt like a rock star during the drivers' parade! I was a bit disappointed not to be on the podium, because I heard it was mega! Bottas just got me (for third) when there were only a few laps to go… It was a shame, but it was still quite a good race for me. I have to say that the city is enormous and quite crazy, with loads of traffic at any time of day. It's a cool city. I'm not the biggest fan of spicy food, so I always stick to normal food there.”

Carlos Sainz

“(The track’s) an interesting one! I think the layout is really well thought about, especially for the fans, as there are three areas with stadiums where it's very impressive to drive through and see so many people surrounding a corner! I also have very good memories of the drivers' parade, the amount of people there was incredible! Also because the Mexican fans are so loud, they shout so much, it makes you feel good! I'd say that, after Japan, the Mexican fans are also up there at the top of the list! Then, regarding the track itself, I'd prefer more high-speed corners, but there's still quite a few chicanes and changes of direction which are interesting. We reached 360kph last year - I think this year it will be more. And the track is literally inside the city, something I also like.”

Red Bull

Max Verstappen

“The circuit in Mexico is interesting, it’s still really new, they had only just finished it when we went there in 2015. Hopefully when we go there this year the grip will have improved and the lap times will be faster. The fans are really passionate in Mexico, a lot came to the race last year so it will be good to see them out in force again this year. Last year I didn’t get any chance to look around at all, I want to taste some authentic food and see some sights this year.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“Last year in Mexico it was quite challenging, the surface was so new it meant grip levels were really low. This year should be a bit more fun with a bit more feeling. The track has some really cool sections, driving slow through the stadium bits means you can feel the atmosphere from the fans. Last year it was the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival so we went out on the Sunday after the race. We had a meal and everyone was dressed up in the skulls, it felt like we were in a movie. For me, having Austin and Mexico as a back to back is great because they are two of the most hospitable places we go and really cool to spend time there.”


More to follow.