A week can feel like a very long time as a F1 fan, especially when the week in question is that last one before the start of a new season. Fortunately, Formula E has come to our salvation with this weekend’s Mexican e Prix.
The event is taking place at the newly upgraded Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Formula E will use elements of the track used for Formula One, including an adapted version of the fantastic stadium section.
Former Toro Rosso team mates; Jean Eric Vergne & Sébastien Buemi, will be competing against the likes of Mercedes development driver Sam Bird and former Virgin Racing driver Lucas Di Grassi to take the top step of the podium later today.
Formula E events take place over a single day, the schedule for today’s racing is as follows:
Free Practice 1: 08.15 local time (15.15 CET)
Free Practice 2: 10.30 local time (17.30 CET)
Qualifying: 12.00 local time (19.00 CET)
RACE: 16.00 local time (23.00 CET)
You can follow the events of the day, through this FIA Formula E hosted streaming service via You Tube:
Streaming services are available in select countries only, if you are unable to view this broadcast please visit this link to check how to access coverage.
Formula E podium finisher Scott Speed will be partof the championship’s world feed commentary team for round five of the series, which takes Speed, who is racing for the Andretti team in the Global Rallycross Championship, is standing in for Dario Franchitti, who is on IndyCar duty in St. Petersburg, Florida. Speed is a familiar face in the Formula E paddock, having competed in three races for Andretti in season one, which included a stunning second-place finish on his debut in Miami.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity and I think it will be a fun experience to see things from the other side of the camera,” Speed said. “I think Formula E is a great championship, which produces really exciting races, and I can’t wait to get involved in the build-up to the race in Mexico City!”
Speed is one of only two Americans to have raced in Formula E, with Marco Andretti being the other. The only Formula E race on United States soil takes place on April 2 at Long Beach.
To buy tickets for the Mexico and Long Beach ePrix click here
To watch highlights of Speed’s amazing drive to second in Miami click here
Mexico City has today been confirmed as the host city for round five of the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, subject to approval from the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in December. The Mexico City ePrix will take place on March 12, 2016. The track is approximately 2.14km in length and subject to FIA track homologation. It will use part of the historic Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with seating for around 40,000 of the world’s most passionate fans.
Mexico has a rich racing culture hosting major international races and now Formula E with the help of DHL, the championship’s Official Logistics Partner.Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said: “We are delighted to be taking Formula E to Mexico City. This is one of the world’s great cities, with a rich heritage and passion for motorsport. I’m confident the fans will create an amazing atmosphere and make the Mexico City ePrix one of the most memorable races of the season.”
Alejandro Soberon, President and CEO of CIE said: “For OCESA it is an honour to open the doors to Formula E to the just newly-renovated Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez track. A circuit that is positioning itself day-by-day as the temple of motorsport.”
Miguel Angel Mancera, Major of Mexico City added: “Staging events such as Formula E is helping to make Mexico City one of the ‘sports capitals’ of the world. After the success of the Formula 1
Grand Prix, the addition of the Formula E race shows that the Hermanos Rodriguez racetrack is the perfect place for all kinds of racing events and is a key part of the work that the Mexico City government has undertaken to enhance our tourist attractions.”
Salvador Duran said: “Formula E is a great championship that produces fantastic races among top-line drivers and I am sure the Mexican fans are going to love the races. The sound of the cars will be totally new to them, but I know that once they see the quality of the action they are going to be hooked.”
Tickets for the race will go on sale on December 7 with prices starting at 350 Mexican Pesos (approx. 19 Euros).
As Formula One prepares for the Brazilian Grand Prix a story that won’t go away is that of the Sahara Force India F1 Team rebranding as the Aston Martin Racing F1 Team with extensive, possibly title sponsorship, from Johnnie Walker in 2016.
To the dreamy eyed motorsport fan, myself included, the prospect of seeing the Aston Martin name in Formula One is fantastic. That being said the performance objectives Aston Martin may have for the partnership will have to be kept in check. The Silverstone based team have achieved great things on a limited budget for a number of years, but realistically making further steps up the grid will not happen overnight, even if the team were to receive sizable capital investment any plan for the Aston Martin brand to win in Formula One would have to form part of a longer term commitment. Will the Aston Martin marketers be satisfied with an image of the plucky underdog?
Beyond a possible team rebrand, the suggested commercial deals also raise a number of questions. The Force India team was originally intended to act as a platform for Vijay Mallya to promote, in addition to his airline, United Breweries and United Spirits (UBUS) through the brands Kingfisher, Whyte and Mackay, and Royal Challenge. Following the economic challenges Vijay Mallya and his companies have faced in recent years, ownership of the UBUS companies has exchanged hands. Initially Diageo (parent company of Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff) bought a sizable shareholding in the UBUS business. This change in ownership was reflected in the Force India livery with the addition of Smirnoff branding on the car. However, earlier this year as part of a consolidation strategy Diageo sold its shares in the UBUS business to Heineken. With Diageo’s Smirnoff remaining on the car alongside Kingfisher and Royal Challenge, this in effect means that the Force India team carries branding for two of the world’s largest alcohol companies. A situation that is unlikely to continue into the 2016 season irrespective of any Aston Martin rebrand.
Further mudding the water, or wine, is the recently extended agreement Force India have with the Mexican wine producer Cavell’s. Whilst it can be argued that wine, spirits, and beer are not direct competitors they ultimately target the same consumers. Since signing Sergio Perez Force India have devoted their marketing efforts to developing a substantial Mexican sponsorship portfolio, significantly beyond partnerships brokered through the Slim family (Telmex) This strategic focus on Mexico again leads me to question the likelihood of an Aston Martin rebrand with Johnnie Walker. The team won’t look to terminate commercial sponsorships, but do all these deals meet with the branding demands Aston Martin may place on the team?
One possible theory around the Johnnie Walker rumours could in fact be team ownership. Vijay Mallya’s financial troubles have been long and well reported, it is possible he agreed to offer a silent shareholding in the team to Diageo when they first bought into the UBUS business? Diageo shareholding in the team would explain any desire to consolidate existing F1 partnerships into a single team and bring Aston Martin to the party as a premium brand to support a premium product in Johnnie Walker.
Vijay Mallya’s comments over the Mexican GP weekend that the Force India name has served its purpose and perhaps the time is right to change is sound, with the now Heineken owned Kingfisher and Royal Challenge likely to fall off livery in 2016 and Roy Sahara’s difficulties not reaching any conclusion in the near future beyond Vijay Mallya himself there is very little Indian influence left in the team.
One thing is for sure the Silverstone based team will look different in 2016, will they “Keep Walking” with Johnnie Walker and Aston Martin? Time will tell, but as ever with these stories there is much to this than a paint job and a few stickers.
Last Sunday Formula One made its triumphant return to Mexico. For the first time in 23 years the ,albeit somewhat quieter, sounds of F1 machinery could be heard coming from the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. The reception the F1 circus received was nothing short of spectacular, with drivers, journalists, and fans questioning how the Mexican GP ever fell off the Formula One calendar in the first place.
The Mexican Grand Prix was a true success in every sense of the word, not only did the fans create a unique atmosphere, perhaps more importantly government and business supported the event. Jennie Gow in her blog for Grid 1 earlier today commented the Mexican GP should act as a reminder that passion is more important that the pound and that F1 should not forget its roots with the future of Silverstone & Monza’s place F1 calenders continually questioned. Whilst I whole hearty agree with the sentiment, for me possible more than the incredible atmosphere in Mexico what was significant about the race was the pound.
Not relying on its place in history organisers of the Mexican Grand Prix have invested hundreds of millions in upgrading not only the pit and paddock area, but also the circuit design itself. Taking into consideration both modern safety requirements and maximising fans views and engagement with the cars on track aiming to create a fan experience unique to the Mexican GP. The person that came up with the idea of placing the podium in the stadium section of the circuit ,rather than as is traditional position above the pitlane, deserves every accolade they receive. The track gave the feeling of having the everyday fan at the heart of every decision taken. This focus on the fan paid off. Sell-out crowds, lead to sold out merchandising, and food stalls, exactly what is needed to ensure a venue is profitable.
Capacity crowds resulted in FOM world feed broadcasts packed with carnival like images of fans all weekend, relying this message to the millions of viewers at home paid off. Social media was a light with comments around the venue jumping to the top of everyone’s ‘the next race I’m going to’ list. Something the savvy Mexican Tourism board will no doubt capitalise on with the race becoming a stalwart of how the country is promoted. Beyond the circuit organisers, and the tourism board, Mexican business got behind the return of F1 to the country, half the teams on the grid sported additional Mexican sponsorship agreements for the race weekend.
None of this happened by chance. The Mexican Grand Prix did not return to the F1 calendar for sentimental value, it earned its place through making a sound business case. To the venue owner, the government and tourism board, to the local economy and to perhaps most importantly to businesses.
It was hugely refreshing to see such a dynamic and vibrant event and yes, again echoing Jennie Gow’s comments hopefully some of the ‘new territories’ can take some lessons in how to put on a show, but to me the real lesson should be to those traditional venues. European venues increasingly complain about an F1 event not being profitable, that increasing hosting fees cripple their finances. Perhaps the time has come to look at the product they offer as hosting fees increase their offering should evolve. Government and business don’t see the benefits of a home race because they haven’t been shown in a convincing way. Silverstone, Nürburgring should take the example of Mexico and show the county what F1 could do for them.
Retaining a place on the F1 calendar should not be a right, it should be earned. The Mexican Grand Prix serves to show when faced with that challenge the true classic venues are ready for that fight.
Nico Rosberg has won the first Mexican Grand Prix in 23 years from pole, with a two-stop strategy. Using a soft-medium-medium strategy, he beat his team mate Lewis Hamilton to secure a 10th one-two of the season for Mercedes and move back to second in the driver points standings.
Behind them, the race strategies were affected by a safety car with just 20 laps to go. This effectively allowed a ‘free’ pit stop, which meant that those contemplating another stop could do so without a big penalty.
The exception was local hero Sergio Perez, driving for Force India, who stopped only once and finished in a points-scoring eighth: reinforcing his reputation for excellent tyre management. Perez was the only one-stopper in the race, with the vast majority of drivers stopping twice and a handful stopping three times: although none of the three-stoppers managed to score points.
An extra dimension to today’s race was added by the highest track temperatures seen all weekend, despite earlier predictions of rain. With 46 degrees of track temperature and an increasing amount of rubber on the new surface, the pattern of wear and degradation seen in practice and qualifying was altered. The extra traction also helped to increase the very high top speeds seen in the thin air of Mexico, with Sebastian Vettel recording 366kph (227mph) on the straight. Williams driver Felipe Massa clocked 352kph (218mph) on the straight even without DRS assistance.
As the race went on and the track evolved, the medium tyre in particular came into its own, with the fastest lap being set by Rosberg (lap 67) on this compound at a pace about one second off the pole position he had set on soft tyres.
All the drivers started on the soft tyre compound, apart from the two McLarens as well as Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, who started on the medium compound.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “As expected we saw two stops for the majority of competitors, at what turned out to be quite a complicated race strategically because of a surface that kept on evolving, track temperatures a full 12 degrees higher than we experienced yesterday, and a safety car towards the end of the race. Formula One’s return to Mexico has been a spectacular success, with an amazing and vibrant atmosphere from start to finish. As Nigel Mansell said when he interviewed the drivers on the podium: Viva Mexico! It’s good to know that some things don’t change: when Mexico last returned to F1 in 1986 a Pirelli-equipped car won, thanks to Gerhard Berger and Benetton, and the fans are still brilliant.”
Mexican Financial Services provider Unifin have joined the Lotus F1 team as Formula One returns to Mexico this weekend. Not unfamiliar to the F1 grid Unifin backed the Sauber F1 team during the 2012 season.
Follow this link to discover more about the services Unifin have to offer.
Lotus F1 Team Qualifying Report:
Romain Grosjean has qualified twelfth and Pastor Maldonado thirteenth for tomorrow’s Mexican Grand Prix. Both drivers missed out on the top ten decider with close lap times separating the field for a dry but cloud-bordered session.
Romain Grosjean, E23-04. Q: P12, 1:21.038. FP3: P13, 1:22.184
“We’re at a very high altitude, at a track with very low grip, requiring good downforce – which we know are not our strongest points – so we weren’t massively confident of our performance heading into qualifying. We did better than expected, even though we struggled to get the tyres to work. We still have a good opportunity tomorrow; it’s a long race where everyone’s brakes and engines are likely to struggle. The start will be very important; we’ll try to use all our experience and make a decent result happen.”
Pastor Maldonado, E23-03. Q: P13, 1:21.261. FP3: P12, 1:22.042
“I was hoping for a little bit better from qualifying but we were struggling for front grip and the rear stability wasn’t fantastic. We expected more of a benefit from running with the new tyres but we weren’t able to unlock it. It’s a long race, we usually have good race pace so let’s go for some more points.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:
“There’s potential for exciting battles. We’re certainly targeting points.”
How was qualifying for the team?
It was a tricky session for us. The grip levels were changing with the temperature and the circuit seemed to get slower at the end of Q2. The trick was to be on a fast lap in the fast-slow-fast lap cycle when the track surface and temperature were at their best. We’re not a million miles away from where we expected to be in qualifying so we’re looking to maximise everything for the race.
What are the considerations for tomorrow’s race?
There’s a greater chance of rain than today which we’re very aware of as this can make for a very dynamic race. If it is dry then we can expect very low tyre degradation and close monitoring of the brakes. We should learn a lot tomorrow as the race unfolds and there’s potential for exciting battles through the field. We’re certainly targeting points.
Mexico City, October 30, 2015 – A new track always creates unique challenges, with fresh asphalt frequently offering little grip due to oil in the tarmac rising to the surface, and no rubber previously laid down to enhance adhesion.
These factors meant that it was difficult for the drivers to find grip today: a situation that was complicated by the variable track and air temperatures, which culminated in light rain during FP2. Over the course of the afternoon session, the track temperature dropped by eight degrees, making it very hard for the teams to get an accurate read on tyre behaviour.
The weather in Mexico seems to be equally uncertain for the rest of the weekend, with a possibility of rain for qualifying and the race. All four compounds were run today, although only Williams driver Valtteri Bottas used the Cinturato Blue full wet for an installation lap in FP1. The intermediate, medium and soft tyres were used extensively, with the soft tyre proving to be more than two seconds per lap faster than the medium. This was due to the high degree of track evolution seen today, combined with the effect of rain in the FP2 session. The asphalt in Mexico has a very closed surface, limiting the permeability of the surface.
As usual, the drivers completed longer runs during FP2 on both slick tyre compounds: although it remains to be seen how useful this information will turn out to be. Establishing tyre temperature was one of the biggest challenges, but as the circuit rubbers in and evolves, this will become easier. Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen was fastest in FP1 on the medium tyre: with nearly seven seconds separating the fastest from the slowest car. In FP2, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was quickest on the soft tyre: more than four seconds faster than Verstappen in the morning.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: “Today was all about grip and track evolution. As usual on a new surface, there’s a very shiny new top layer of oil and grease that makes it very hard to find traction. As time goes on, the top of the surface eventually gets grated away and more rubber is laid down: but this doesn’t happen instantly. The weather today didn’t help either with very variable temperatures and then rain at the end of FP2. So this has made what’s already a very hard job for the teams in preparing for a new track even more difficult, because there isn’t enough consistent information to get an accurate picture of what conditions will be like for the rest of the weekend. However, these challenging circumstances bring out the best in Formula One, with the teams having to make the most of limited information to extract the best possible performance. Even though today was just free practice, the atmosphere was absolutely incredible: the stadium section in particular is set to be a highlight of the lap on race day.”
Fact of the day:
Lewis Hamilton registered a speed of 362.3kph on the speed trap in FP1. This is fractionally faster than Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo managed at Monza last year, when he set a benchmark of 362.1kph. Even though the cars run high wing angles in Mexico, the reduced air density at 2200 metres above sea level means that drag is minimised – enabling record top speeds.
Tyre statistics of the day:
|kms driven *||1342||2727||558||4|
|sets used overall **||19||55||22||1|
|highest number of laps **||30||27||11||1|
* The above number gives the total amount of kilometres driven in FP1 and FP2 today, all drivers combined.
** Per compound, all drivers combined.