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Mexico preview quotes - Ferrari, Toro Rosso, Mercedes, Haas, Renault & more

27 Oct 2017

From Texas, the teams head rapidly south to Mexico City for this weekend's race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Those involved look ahead to the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Mexico 2017...
Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen

“Because of the altitude, this track is quite slippery, with very little grip, so it’s easy to lose lap time. In the first part you have a long straight where it’s possible to overtake, while the rest of the track is more similar to a street circuit and there it gets more difficult to pass. But for sure, if you have the speed it should be possible to gain positions. This year we have been pretty strong in most places, so I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be the same here. Let’s see how it is tomorrow: with the new cars, given the increased downforce they generate, it should be a bit better. In these last three races we are aiming to do the best we can, hopefully fighting for wins.”

Sebastian Vettel

“We are still here to fight and we want to do it till the end. We are trying to do our best and win and then we’ll go from there. Everything that we can learn today will help us for the future, this is the thinking inside the whole team. We need to keep going and push on our development. Last year, the start for us was important as it gave us the best opportunity to attack, but this year, we should have better chances during the race. We have had a mixed year with ups and downs, which I think is normal for a team. There were races we couldn’t finish and that hurts. But we have a good car and on paper we should be more competitive here, so let’s see what happens.”

Toro Rosso

Pierre Gasly

“I’m really excited about the Mexican GP race weekend! It’s going to be my third race weekend as a Formula 1 driver, this time on a completely new track for me – I’ve never raced there, so it will be exciting to learn a new one. I’ve been there as a reserve driver with Red Bull for the last two years and I think it’s a unique event. The atmosphere there is very special, the fans are great and very passionate. The part of the stadium in the last sector is also amazing, always full of spectators cheering the drivers on. It’s great to see all the grandstands completely full! It’s a special city and we always visit it during Halloween or the ‘Day of the Dead’, and the whole city gets crazy about it – you see people dressed up and with painted faces invading the streets and enjoying the big ‘fiesta’! It’s really cool to see. Hopefully we can have a great race weekend there. I’ll keep pushing together with the team, I’ll try to do my best, keep gaining experience and I really hope we achieve a positive result!”

Brendon Hartley

"I'm so excited to head to Mexico for my second Formula 1 Grand Prix! It was a steep learning curve in Austin last week, so I'm looking forward to putting some of the lessons learnt into practice this weekend here in Mexico. It's a tricky venue for the engineers, as the high altitude plays havoc on downforce and cooling, but from a driving point of view it's a great track and one I really enjoy!"

Mercedes

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Although the constructors’ title is now secure, we are only halfway to hitting our objectives for the season. When we set our targets at the start of the year, it was to become the only team to win both championships across a major regulation change. We now have to complete that job with Lewis, who is in the best possible position with three races remaining. We know that anything can happen in this sport, and that the tables can be turned on you very quickly. So there will be no let off in our vigilance and attention to detail in these final rounds. We will be racing to win.

“Our target may be clear – but it will not be easy to achieve this weekend in Mexico. This is an unusual circuit where the cars run at maximum downforce owing to the high altitude. Some of our most difficult weekends this season have come with the car running at maximum downforce, so we expect a tough and close-fought battle with both Ferrari and Red Bull. It will be important to be at the very top of our game if we want to get the job done.”

Haas

Romain Grosjean

“Brake cooling is an issue because of the air density. From there, we also have very little downforce because we’re at altitude. I guess the biggest thing for us to feel is the downforce loss. The biggest challenge for the car is the cooling.”

Kevin Magnussen

“You need a lot of downforce there. As the air is thin, you lose downforce. It’s pretty tricky. You can see the effect it has on top speeds. Because the air is so thin, you don’t have a lot of drag from the air down the straight. Our maximum speeds go very high. It’s one of the tricky races that you have to compromise a lot of things in order to cool the car and find downforce.

“The atmosphere is awesome. You have the infield part – the stadium part – and it’s always packed. The Mexican people are really into it. It’s a great atmosphere. You notice it on the driver’s parade, for sure. The fans are very passionate.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“It’s very different to anything else. You need your highest downforce level – whatever you can you put on there because of the air being so thin. Cooling – you never have enough up at that altitude. It is different, but we know we have to adapt to it."
 

Renault

Nico Hulkenberg

“Mexico City is a massive place, maybe one of the biggest I’ve ever visited. I’ve been fortunate to fly over it in a helicopter and it’s really mind blowing!

“The track itself is challenging. We are at high altitude, so we lose a lot of downforce because of the air density. It makes the car light and easy to slide. It has a lot of tricky corner combinations which look simple but are extremely technical. It’s certainly not an easy lap. The standout is the final two corners and driving through the stadium. That’s really cool, it’s always loud and a real goose bumps moment.”

Carlos Sainz

“It’s one of my favourite race weekends and a lot of us drivers really enjoy it. We really feel the heat of the crowd there; it’s very special and feels different to any other race. The track is not easy to drive as the effective downforce is pretty low, which makes the car feel quite light. There are long straights – so high speeds - then twisty corners which are challenging to get right. My qualifying there hasn’t been too bad, I made Q3 last season.

“You get a good feeling for the atmosphere on the track parade, especially when you say hi to more than 200,000 people, which is pretty special. You really see the passion of the fans and their love for Formula 1; it’s really cool and a great race on the calendar. As a driver, we love seeing this passion and you know it will be special weekend. The stadium is really cool, but even away from that section the grandstands are always packed!

“Trying the Mexican cuisine is a must, even though I’m not a fan of spicy food. I usually go for the quesadillas which aren’t too spicy and are very tasty. It’s strange that my friends nickname me Chilli, even though I don’t like spicy food, that doesn’t work very well! Mexico City is extremely busy so you need a good chauffer who knows some tricks on how to get to places quickly.

Remi Taffin, Engine Technical Director

“It’s an interesting venue. There are high speeds through the long straights with the thinner air at high altitude giving less resistance. The thinner air means the turbo has to spin at a higher rate to input enough oxygen into the ICE, it actually spins around 8 percent more in Mexico than in Abu Dhabi. Equally, fuel consumption over one lap is quite low so energy recovery is less critical in Mexico than at other circuits.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director

“When Formula 1 returned to Mexico in 2015 we didn’t know quite what to expect. What we found was a superb event which was well run and organised, and supported by enthusiastic and knowledgeable fans.

“Mexico City has been through a lot with the recent earthquake but the strength and the spirit of the city is strong, and Formula 1 is determined to put on a good show.

Force India

Sergio Perez

“Racing at home means a lot for me. It’s always a busy week, both for me and the team, but being at home makes all the hard work we put in for our fans and our partners worthwhile. It’s definitely the most enjoyable weekend of the year for me. It’s a great race for everyone involved in Formula One. There’s so much passion and the whole week is a big celebration. Everyone in Mexico City is looking forward to the race.

“The track is quite fun to drive and being on those long straights is special. Because of the altitude, even though you’re running high wings, you still achieve very high speeds and it’s really hard to stop the car under braking – in that sense it feels like a bit like Monza.

“I am lucky I get to race in my country in front of my fans. Their support means so much to me and it’s inspiring to see fans waving the Mexican flag in every grandstand. I really want to give them a special result to celebrate.”

Esteban Ocon

“Racing in Mexico is good fun. I am expecting the atmosphere to be fantastic: I had a taste of it last year and the final sector, going through the stadium, is impressive. Motorsport and Formula One are very important for the Mexican fans and to hear them cheering every lap feels very special.

“The track is great. You can find a very good rhythm and you can overtake. The stadium section is very slow and it bunches up the cars just before the very long straight. There are some special corners as well and it’s just a cool track. Turns one and four are good opportunities for overtaking so I am expecting some action through that part of the lap.

“I have a Mexican team mate so this is a special race for the team. Sergio is very popular in Mexico, but I hope there will be a very warm welcome for me as well – similar to what I had last year. Sergio and I had a few difficulties earlier in the year, but we’re good now and there’s a lot of respect between us. We work together for the team to get the best performance possible and I hope all fans will respect that.”

Tom McCullough, Chief Race Engineer

"The characteristics of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez are dominated by the high altitude of the track, at 2250m above sea level. At 780mbar, the air density is very low, resulting in reduced downforce, drag and cooling capacity. It’s a standout challenge for the engine and brake system cooling, especially since it is a high brake energy track. Low-speed corners dominate the layout, so it is crucial to develop a set-up that gives you performance in those sections. At the same time, you need to make the most of the very long straight which provides a very good opportunity for overtaking."

Vijay Mallya, Team Principal

“Our season continues to go from strength to strength with another double points finish in the United States last week. We’ve had the fourth quickest car for the last three events and picked up significant points with both cars. It means we’ve edged even closer to securing fourth place in the championship with an opportunity to mathematically secure this result in Mexico this week.

“The Mexican Grand Prix is always a hugely important weekend for everybody in the team, but especially for Sergio. We receive huge support from the fans and with so many guests and partners joining us at the track we have extra motivation of put on a strong show. We have more updates coming for the VJM10 as we continue to push hard with development late into the season, which should give us an extra performance step this weekend.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso

“It’s very important that we head to Mexico with everybody in our thoughts that has been affected by the recent earthquake, and show them as much support as we possibly can at this really difficult time.

“The welcome we receive in Mexico City is among the best in the world – you can really feel the warmth of the fans all around the circuit, especially in the arena section, and the support is unbelievable. For me, it’s nice to be able to arrive in a country, travel to the hotel and check in using my own language! But seriously, I love Mexico and the Mexican people, and I hope we can put on the show they deserve.

“It will surely be a challenging weekend for us as I’m expecting to start from the back of the grid due to the engine issue we had in Austin. It’s also a track where we often struggle with traffic, which makes overtaking difficult. But, on the positive side, we tested a lot of new components on Friday in the USA which we were very happy with, and we hope to take those forward to use in Mexico.”

Stoffel Vandoorne

“We head to Mexico City very aware of the current situation there and we send all of our support and best wishes to the people of Mexico after such a terrible disaster.

“For McLaren Honda, Mexico will likely be a very tricky race for us because of the long straight and the high altitude, two characteristics which will make things more difficult for us all weekend. As I had to change my PU on race day in Austin, we’re hoping that we won’t have to take penalties on my car in Mexico, but at the moment we’re looking into everything and will wait until Friday to confirm if anything is necessary.

“I last went to Mexico City two years ago and loved the whole experience. We stay downtown and the city is really cool. I remember the awesome atmosphere around the whole track and I’m looking forward to going back there. The fans are amazing and the coolest part of the circuit is the stadium because there are so just many people there. I’ve been preparing to race on this circuit for a while with my engineers in the simulator, and I’m excited to get out on track there for the first time on Friday.”

Eric Boullier, Racing Director

“Firstly, on behalf of both myself and the whole team, I’d like to send our condolences to the hundreds of people that have been affected by the terrible earthquake in Mexico in September. Mexico City is a place we’ve quickly grown to love visiting, and we hope this coming weekend we can show our solidarity and support for the victims and shine a spotlight on the incredible resilience they’ve shown, as well as recognise the generous hospitality we receive from our Mexican friends every year we visit.

“While I can’t promise victory, we will of course fight for everything we can despite difficult circumstances, as we did in Austin. It’s likely that Fernando will have to take penalties due to the PU issue he faced last weekend, so he is already preparing himself for what will undoubtedly be a spirited fight from the back of the grid. We don’t yet know how the weekend will pan out for Stoffel, but will try to give him the best chance we can at what will be a second new track for him in as many weeks.

“The conditions, too, make it tough for all the teams – it’s often hot and humid in Mexico City, and coupled with the altitude it makes cooling and outright engine performance even more of a challenge than normal. We’ve learned a lot about these characteristics from the past two years we’ve raced there and I hope we can put this to good use next weekend. We aren’t expecting to make a significant dent on the points table this weekend, but we never ever give up, and will give it our all to make the best we can out of this challenging double-header as possible.”

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

“After a very disappointing weekend in the United States, we’re now crossing the border to Mexico.

“First of all, we would like to express our condolences to the people who lost their lives in the disaster and offer our heartfelt sympathy to all those affected.

“This will be the third year of the Mexican Grand Prix since its return to the Formula 1 calendar. We always enjoy racing in the cheerful Latin atmosphere in front of the fanatic Mexican fans. I also appreciate the warm support from our Honda de Mexico colleagues.
“The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is unique in terms of its location with a very high altitude of 2,300m. Due to the thin air, it’s necessary for us to have a totally different approach to extract the power out of the PU compared to other circuits. In addition, the long straight means we’re expecting to face a tough challenge.

“However, the tricky conditions are the same for all the other teams, and we will use the data collected over the past two years to make the best race strategy possible.

“It is obviously a race under very difficult circumstances for the people of Mexico, and we hope to put on a good show for them all.”

Williams

Felipe Massa

“First of all, it’s a shame to see what’s happened, it’s so sad to see the people losing their lives and also their homes from the earthquake so that’s really, really sad. I think we need to help them and get as much support for them. We need to pass the message to people around the world. That is the most important thing. Secondly, they are really in love with Formula One and they go crazy for the race. When you see the people in the grandstand and around the roads, they are proper Formula One fans and I think it’s fantastic to race there. I always enjoy it, I go with some friends, my father and we always enjoy the atmosphere there. It looks very similar to São Paolo so you also feel at home. I really hope we can have an important race for them in this difficult moment.”

Lance Stroll

“This will be the first time I have visited Mexico and all the stories I have heard about the country and the circuit mean I am really looking forward to it. I am particularly looking forward to the stadium section where all the fans are and get really excited. I know there will be a great atmosphere and I can’t wait to get out on the circuit to experience it for myself. Another aspect of Mexico I am looking forward to is the food, as I am a huge fan of Mexican food and I love my spices. It will also be a bit of a special weekend for me as on race day I shall be celebrating my 19th birthday.”

Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer

“This is our third year returning to Mexico after a long break since the 1990s. Our first thoughts are for everyone affected by the recent earthquake, and we hope that we can bring some brightness to the city after that tragedy. In actual fact, the Mexican fans are never lacking in enthusiasm, as this is arguably the most passionate crowd of the entire Formula One season. This makes it a real pleasure to race at this event for both teams and drivers. The circuit itself has some interesting challenges. Due to the altitude there is about 80 percent normal atmospheric pressure. The effect of this is that we run the most extreme downforce bodywork that we have available, but it only delivers the level of downforce that we would typically run at Monza, which is a very high-speed circuit. Therefore, the cars are very light on downforce which makes it particularly challenging for the drivers and we often see a lot of mistakes, leading to some interesting races. The particular highlight of the circuit is the stadium section and the podium in front of all the fans, so we look forward to putting on another great event.”

Red Bull

Max Verstappen

“In Mexico I will try my best to get on the podium this year. I was very close to it last year, but unfortunately in the end it didn’t work out for us.

“The track is a great venue and has a unique setting. No other track we go to has a stadium section like Mexico. It just doesn’t compare to any race track I have been to so far. It’s an enjoyable track but not very physical, even though it’s really quick. The fans are really passionate and loud all weekend so I’m definitely excited to get back there and race this year.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“It was a little confusing to be classified third there last year but nonetheless a nice surprise. I enjoyed the track last year more than I did the first year as it started out quite dirty and slippery, which didn’t really give the car a good feeling. Last year it was much better and this year it should improve even more.

“Even though the stadium section is really slow and not the most adrenaline fuelled part of the track, I really enjoy it because it’s so technical.

“The thin air definitely makes a big difference to the car handling. We use the most downforce we have and it still feels less than Monza. The car moves around a lot and for that reason you never really feel 100 percent happy, but you just deal with it.

“The fans are awesome and I would say it’s the best Drivers’ Parade we do all year.”

Pirelli

Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing

“In Mexico, we again maintain our principle of bringing softer compounds than last year whenever possible, in the pursuit of increased performance and more exciting races. This is actually the second consecutive year that we are bringing a new tyre to Mexico, as last year the supersoft was nominated there for the first time. Only two races have been run on the current version of the track before, so it’s not one of the venues that the teams are most familiar with. This means that there will be some learning to do with the ultrasoft in particular during free practice.”


More to follow.