Tag Archives: Nico Rosberg

Formula One: VIDEO – Mercedes AMG Petronas W07 Technical Briefing

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Paddy Lowe – Executive Director (Technical), MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team

What were the main lessons learned from 2015 and how will these help the team progress in 2016?
PL: After a highly successful season all round in 2015, our priority has been to identify the areas in which we were weakest and to try to improve on those. Our objective is excellence in all areas and, while we had some fantastic results last year, there are many areas in which we can still be much better. That’s the kind of culture we try to instill throughout the whole organisation – one of constantly striving to reach something better. We had a number of races that didn’t go to plan in 2015 – Singapore in particular – so there were a lot of things that needed improving for 2016. We are seeking optimisation absolutely everywhere.

The rules for 2016 are relatively stable – have you gone for evolution or revolution with the new car?
PL: It’s difficult to have a complete revolution when the rules have stayed pretty much the same year on year. But we aim to make minor revolutions wherever we can – even within a small context. We may look at a completely new packaging solution or suspension concept, for instance. So, while the car may look very similar to its predecessor from the outside – as is inherent within stable regulations – underneath there are quite a lot of mini revolutions that make up an overall evolution for the new season.

Just how tough is it to find extra performance under stable regulations?
PL: It’s very tough to find performance under a stable set of regulations and we were particularly pleased with how the car turned out in 2015 when we had the same situation. The team did a fantastic job – digging very deep to find all sorts of innovations in areas that might have been considered static. 2016 is another carry-over year from a regulatory point of view and potential gains inevitably become harder to find under these circumstances. This is what tests an engineering team the most and I must say that this team has been very good at that. It’s far easier to find performance when you have a new set of rules, that’s for sure.

What are the major rule changes for 2016 that the team has been responding to?
PL: On the mechanical side, the main rule change is around the separate ducting of exhaust tail pipe and waste gate. But, in reality, that’s not had a major effect. The biggest structural change is on the chassis side, where we’ve raised the protection area around the driver by 20mm and increased the side impact test load from 15 to 50kN. This is a substantial increase in the load that has to be taken by the chassis as that point and will give much greater protection to the driver.

New concepts for 2016 will have minimal proving time on track with the reduction in winter testing. How big an impact will this have on preparations for the season ahead?
PL: The amount of testing permitted each season has been reduced progressively in recent years. We’ve now reached a new minimum in terms of winter testing, with two banks of four days. That’s something the team has been preparing for by producing better designs and undertaking better preparation and testing in the R&D lab so that we’re as well placed as possible to hit the ground running. What’s different for 2016 is actually not so much that there are only two tests – but that they’re both very close to the first race of the season. This has notably reduced the extent to which we can upgrade the car from ‘launch spec’ to the first race spec. That window is now very narrow, which reduces the number of potential upgrades ahead of the opening Grand Prix weekend.

Tyres will be the focus of attention, with a new compound and a change in the race weekend allocation format. How will this work and will be the impact?
PL: Firstly, there is now a new ultra soft compound tyre which we expect to see for the first time in Monaco. Generally, we’ve felt that even the soft and supersoft have been too hard for this circuit, so the ultrasoft will hopefully be a good solution there. The new regulation that allows three compounds per race appears quite complicated at first – but in practice it’s a lot simpler than it sounds! The intention is to create more uncertainty in the races – and I think where we’ll see that uncertainty is at those events where there is no definitive choice of compound for Sunday. We may see teams taking a gamble, which should produce more variation and some interesting races. Once again, a lot has been asked of Pirelli in terms of their contribution to the spectacle. They’ve done a great job in recent seasons and I’m sure that will continue with these new additions for 2016.

There has been much talk about a head protection device for introduction in the future. What is the status of this project?
PL: Since I first came into Formula One in the late eighties, the advancements in safety have been substantial. This has been particularly visible on the cars themselves, with the impact structures and load tests now in place – but also in other aspects of the sport, such as circuit design and facilities. However, as with every aspect of a car, there is always room for improvement. In my view, the driver’s head is the major risk remaining in Formula One and other forms of single-seater racing. We’ve seen quite a few near misses and, very sadly, some fatalities in recent years as a result of head injuries. A number of teams, including Mercedes, have strongly supported research into structures that could protect the drivers from such objects. This is a project which has been underway for several years and the motivation to pull this forward and reach a set of regulations as soon as possible has accelerated. There are a number of suggestions on the table and some of them look very realistic, so hopefully we may even see a solution appear for 2017.

 

Andy Cowell -Managing Director, Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains

Mercedes has set the standard so far in the hybrid era. Where has the focus been over the winter to maintain that level of performance?
AC: It’s been more of the same. To get the performance out of this new generation of Power Units, you need to chase efficiency. That’s both combustion efficiency and efficiency in the various energy transition steps – i.e. MGU-H, MGU-K, turbocharger, power electronics and batteries. We’re constantly working on every single piece of the puzzle to improve performance at the crankshaft, while also seeking to ensure we don’t suffer any of the problems we had last year with reliability. So, it’s about getting down to the root cause of issues and making sure that everything is robust across our whole process, as much as extracting performance.

The technology in these Power Units is a story which has perhaps not been told as well as it could have been so far. Just how impressive are they?
AC: These Power Units really are incredible feats of engineering. We’re now running at more than 47% thermal efficiency and producing historic highs of power – and all with an ICE restricted to consuming fuel at a rate of just 100kg/hr. The old-fashioned, naturally aspirated engines peaked at 29% thermal efficiency during the V8 era – while the last time we saw these levels of power in Formula One was back in 2005, with a V10 that guzzled fuel at a whopping 194kg/hr. To halve the fuel flow rate for the same amount of power is quite something.

There are 32 tokens available to spend across the winter and during in-season development. What areas have been the focus of your development?
AC: 32 tokens is quite a lot, so we haven’t had to restrict any of our development activity to a specific area. Anything which could yield a decent efficiency improvement – and therefore a decent performance improvement – has been explored and we’re now working to make sure our package is sufficiently durable in time for Melbourne.

An extra two races on the calendar means an increased Power Unit allowance for the season ahead. How will this affect your approach to the season?
AC: On the face of it, an increased allocation of Power Units would seem to give manufacturers an advantage, in that each unit is required to complete fewer races, thereby putting less pressure on the life cycle of different components. But the reality is that our durability targets have remained the same. Our target is to make sure that each Power Unit can last for at least five races, meaning that theoretically we only need to use four per driver, across the season. We believe this gives us a good opportunity to react if we have a reliability problem – or potentially to use the extra units to our advantage for a performance enhancement at key races.

With in-season development for 2015 only confirmed late in the day, HPP were able to pull forward 2016 development work into the experimental engine introduced in Monza. How beneficial has that proven to be for all the teams running the Mercedes-Benz Power Unit in 2016?
AC: The upgrade that we introduced in Monza last year took a huge amount of effort from the factory at Brixworth and we only had enough resource to supply the works team with the latest spec at that time. However, that is now paying off for every team with Mercedes power, as we’ve managed to build on that development work through the autumn and winter period. Now, all our customers are getting an improved package that is exactly the same specification as the works team. All eight Mercedes powered cars will have exactly the same hardware and performance potential come Melbourne – which is a good step for everyone.

Fuel and lubricants were central to that development step. But how central will the role of PETRONAS be in finding yet more performance from the Power Unit?
AC: The rate of development from the Power Unit over the past two years has been very impressive. Many people thought that there was not much opportunity to move things forward – but that has not been the case. There have been significant new advances – and fuel and lubricants have been one of the main focus areas. Our 2015 mid-season update incorporated a sizeable step in fuel performance from PETRONAS. Then, later on in the year, we also introduced a new lubricant. We’ve made further progress in the way we’ve designed the combustion system and also enhanced the properties of the lubricants to reduce friction in the engine. PETRONAS are a key partner for us. They’re not just branding on the car – but a deep-rooted technology partnership. Anybody who designs engines knows that good fuel and lubricants are key to performance – and we’re very fortunate to have such a close and productive working relationship with PETRONAS.

Noise has been a hot topic since the new Power Unit formula was introduced in 2014. What’s changing in 2016 to pump up the volume and will this have any effect on performance?
AC: We’ve been conscious since the start of the Hybrid era in 2014 that the volume has diminished for those up in the grandstands as well as those watching at home. This is down to both the nature of a turbocharged engine and the recycling of waste energy in the exhaust system. The FIA therefore undertook an interesting and thorough investigation to analyse noise in the tailpipe and investigate what could be done to increase noise without impacting performance or efficiency. What they spotted is that the waste gate fed into the tailpipe. So, when the waste gate is not open, it’s a dead end. It then becomes a side branch resonator – or effectively a silencer – on the tailpipe. That design has now been removed, so we are left with a nice clean pipe without any silencing points, which should improve the noise of the Power Unit.

2016 sees a new face on the Mercedes-Benz Formula One customer roster – Manor Racing. How has that relationship been developing so far?
AC: Manor Racing is a new customer team for us this year. They’re a small team but a very efficient one, with a very pragmatic approach. We have a very detailed integration manual with instructions on how to fit the Power Unit, how best to use it and likewise what’s not recommended, so we’ve been working closely with them to ensure a seamless integration. They’ve been great to work with and we’re looking forward to seeing their progress through winter testing and into the season.

 

Formula One: #StarsAndCars 2015 Build Up

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With drivers preparing for this this evening’s Stars and Cars event in Stuttgart to celebrate the success of Mercedes Benz across Motorsport in 2015, now seems like a good time to share a few stats and facts about the event.

Hosted in the Mercedes Benz Arena, the track took 108 hours to build with over 3100 people involved, the track is 681 metres in length and required 2400t of gravel and 1220 of tarmac to prepare. The track width varies between 7-8m. It is estimated a lap will take around 33 seconds in an SLS AMG GT3, with a Vmax of around approximately 106km/h

The event will be broken down in to 4 rounds with progressively more powerful vehiles used in each round. Starting with AMG A 45 4Matic and culminating in the SLS AMG GT3.  Drivers across all walks of Mercedes Benz racing will be taking part with both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in attendance alongside DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein.

Each round will require drivers to complete two laps on each configuration of the circuit (the inside and outside) with a mandatory switch between configurations after each lap. Unlike events such as the Race of Champions, the crossover from inside to outside circuit configuration will require drivers to switch lanes.

Having witnessed a few of the warm up laps this morning, the tight and twisty nature of the circuit appears to be quite a challenge for the drivers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few spins and contact as the day progresses.

You can tune into the broadcast on the Mercedes Benz website following this link

Formula One: Mercedes gift Rosberg the final win of the year

GP ABU DHABI F1/2015
GP ABU DHABI F1/2015 – 29/11/15 © FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Through a series of strategic calls AMG Mercedes Petronas elected to gift Nico Rosberg victory around the Yas Marina Circuit.

In a move reminiscent of the 98-99 Mclaren Mercedes domination in which the car leading into the first corner of the first lap would win the race, Mercedes elected to move away from procedures applied since Bahrain 2014 where by driver s, when in a dominant position, would not be permitted to split strategy, it would appear that Nico Rosberg as the lead driver was not only awarded the optimal strategy for the race, but Lewis Hamilton was actively disadvantaged.

Through the opening stint of the race Nico Rosberg was able to open up a lead of almost 7 seconds over Lewis Hamilton. However Lewis was able to bring this gap down to within DRS detection as Nico stopped for the final time. Subsequent to Nico’s second stop, Lewis held an advantage slightly short of 22 seconds, the time required to make a pitstop. Had Mercedes chosen to apply protocol Lewis as the 2nd driver would have stopped within 1-2 laps, in so doing the cars would have run within 1 second of each other in the closing laps of the race.

However, Mercedes elected to extend Lewis’ middle stint despite him losing at times more than 1.5 seconds a lap to Nico. During this extended stint pitwall exchanges were broadcast in which Lewis and his engineer debated elected not to stop again and running the super softs for again, both options were dismissed by the team despite as unsafe despite Ferrari and Red Bull running longer final stints on the super soft and Nico Hulkenberg achieving a stint of 31 laps on the soft.

Once Lewis made his final pitstop of the 2015 season he set about trying to catch Nico Rosberg setting a series of consecutive fastest laps. Having halved the deficit with 5 laps remaining his pitwall instructed him to turn down engine performance. Lewis initially ignored this order, a decision the team responded to by instructing Nico to turn to a higher engine mode.

The rationale for decisions taken by the Mercedes pitwall today are unclear, fans  were seemingly denied of the prospect of close racing in the final race of the year for a greater good determined by the team. As fans of racing, this decision is not an omen for how  AMG Mercedes Petronas will approach 2016.

Formula One: Lewis ’44th win is still out there’

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Record-Breaking Night for the Silver Arrows in Abu Dhabi!

  • Nico took a sixth consecutive pole position – the 22nd of his Formula One career and seventh of the 2015 season
  • Lewis will line up on the front row for the 18th time in 19 races this season – the 90th time he has started in the top two throughout his career to date
  • A 15th front row lockout of the season for the Silver Arrows sets a new Formula One record

 

Nico Rosberg
Normally I’m not too over-excited when I’m on pole, as you don’t get any points on a Saturday. But this time was a pretty cool feeling. My last lap felt absolutely fantastic and it’s great to be starting P1 again. I’m also quite happy that I’ve been quicker than Lewis for the last couple of race weekends. At the beginning of the season he was always this tiny little bit ahead, so it’s good to turn that around. This is the best position to start the race tomorrow. I want to win this one to finish the year on a high and give the boys in the garage a really good reason to have a great season-ending party tomorrow night.

Lewis Hamilton
I’ve generally been struggling with the car all weekend. I’ve changed a lot to try and get around the issues – but I’m still not really feeling comfortable with it. I did what I could out there tonight – but Nico was just really quick and did a great job in Q3, so I wasn’t really surprised he did a better lap in the end. It hasn’t been the best run of qualifying sessions for me lately – but I’ve still managed to turn three of those into wins. So, there is still an opportunity – even it is particularly hard to follow through the first sector. I will work as hard as I can to have a great start tomorrow and improve from there. I’ve got a lot of support here this weekend and that 44th win is still out there to grab, so I will be working hard for it tomorrow.

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
That was a great qualifying session to end the season. Nico did a phenomenal lap at the end of Q3 with a really amazing final sector to take the pole position – his sixth in a row. Lewis had a solid session but things didn’t come together for him in Q3. Nevertheless, P2 is not a bad grid position at this circuit – as last year showed. Everything is set up for a great battle tomorrow. Both boys will want to take the momentum of a win into the winter – and we’re looking forward to the battle.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
It was a fantastic, tense final qualifying session of the season under the lights here in Abu Dhabi. As in Brazil two weeks ago, we saw no need to save option tyres for the race, so it was quite a straightforward programme for both drivers with a single run in Q1 and Q2. That set up the Q3 showdown, with both Nico and Lewis running two new sets of option tyres. Lewis clearly underperformed on his first run in Q3 relative to Q2, then put a strong final effort together. But this was beaten by Nico’s tremendous lap. Congratulations to Nico for his pole and to both drivers for fantastic qualifying performances throughout the season, which is not something that should ever be underestimated. To take 15 all-Mercedes front rows is a very proud benchmark. Now we look forward to the final instalment of their battle tomorrow.

Formula One: Mercedes changes have swung towards Nico

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Following another Mercedes 1-2 the drivers and team directors offer their thoughts:

Nico Rosberg
Wow – another great win in front of another great crowd! I’m so happy with that one – especially at this great circuit with all this history, which makes it extra fun. It was a perfect weekend for me. I was able to control the race the whole time and won with a comfortable margin to Lewis in the end. The team made a good decision to switch to a three-stop race as we saw that Lewis’ tyres went off very quickly. I look forward now to Abu Dhabi where I’ll be pushing to end the season on a high. It’s good to have secured P2 in the Championship in front of Sebastian today – but that’s never really been my ambition. I want to be first, so I need to raise my game as this year it wasn’t high enough. I want to remember at this moment also that we have to put our sport in a different perspective after the incident in Paris. My thoughts are very much still with the family and friends of the people involved.

Lewis Hamilton
I felt good out there today. I was pushing like crazy and genuinely had nothing left. I really love this track but it’s so difficult to overtake. I was all over Nico but couldn’t get past as the DRS Zone sadly just wasn’t long enough. It would be great to do something different strategy-wise once in a while to mix it up – but as drivers we rely on the team. They do so many simulations that they know what’s best. The three-stop strategy was slower but the tyres wouldn’t have lasted, so it was the right decision. At the end of the day, Nico drove a fantastic race and he’s done a great job in qualifying recently too. Since Singapore the car has changed a bit which seems to have swung it towards him – but I just need to get my head down, work out why that is and get back on top of it for the final race. It has been fantastic being here in Brazil with these amazing fans. There is a lot of love in their hearts. Thank you to the organizers for a great event and see you next year!

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
A fantastic 1-2 finish for the team this afternoon and a great feeling to see Nico secure P2 in the Championship with this win. He put in a faultless performance this weekend with a strong pole position lap and then a beautiful drive today. For Lewis, running P2 was always going to be difficult at this track. As soon as you get close to the car in front, you lose downforce and the tyres start dropping off. When that happened in the second stint he asked about an alternative strategy. But the only option was to convert to three stops which was ten seconds slower in terms of overall race time and would have put his second place at risk to Vettel. Then, the situation changed in our favour when Vettel converted to a three-stop strategy, which allowed us to do the same and control any threat from behind to the end of the race. The boys were pushing flat out to the finish but Nico was able to manage the gap to the end to take a well-deserved win. We’re looking forward to seeing this season’s final installment of the battle between Lewis and Nico in two weeks’ time in Abu Dhabi.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
Congratulations to Nico who delivered a perfect weekend here in Brazil. He won the race through a great qualifying lap yesterday and consolidated that with a tremendously controlled drive today. Unfortunately for Lewis, he couldn’t counter that and spent the afternoon chasing hard – unable to quite get close enough to try and overtake Nico on track. To us, it seemed a very exciting race as both drivers fought over fractions of a second lap after lap, putting each other under immense and sustained pressure. We originally planned to do a two-stop strategy but eventually converted to a three-stop strategy to shadow Sebastian in third place, even though the three-stopper was about 10 seconds slower overall. But with the relatively slender margin we had to the Ferrari, it was much safer to mimic his stops. There was a point in the second stint when Lewis asked if anything could be done about a different strategy, but the only alternative at that point was the slower three-stopper, with others looking like they were two-stopping, and we didn’t want to risk handing second place to Ferrari. Our policy is to let our drivers race and also to allow them to explore viable alternative strategies, as we have shown in the past – but we don’t let them pursue a bad alternative strategy at any cost. Needless to say, it’s fantastic to take a 15th race win and 11th one-two finish of the season; and it was just as satisfying to see Jimmy on the podium for his 50th birthday. He’s part of the fabric of our team and of the paddock as a whole, and it was nice to be able to recognise him with a visit to the rostrum.

Formula One: Five on the bonce for Nico!

GP BRASILE F1/2015

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has set pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix using the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tyre, nominated together with the P Zero White medium this weekend. With just over a second separating the two compounds, a number of different strategies are possible for the race tomorrow.
Many competitors are expected to stop twice, but a three-stopper is also very possible. With only a small percentage probability of rain at the start of qualifying, the track remained dry throughout all three sessions. Dry weather should be the case for tomorrow’s race as well, with the short lap and heavy traffic around Interlagos making strategy all the more important when it comes to gaining track position.
Just a tenth of a second separated the two Mercedes drivers in this morning’s final free practice session and their battle continued throughout qualifying. All the drivers completed Q1 on the soft tyre (with all but two of them having run a set of mediums at the start of the session). Qualifying then continued using only the soft compound, as the drivers prioritised saving the more durable medium for the race. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Romain Grosjean (Lotus) did not use any medium tyres during the qualifying session at all.
Lap times were generally slower than they had been in the equivalent sessions last year, mostly due to the new kerbs at Interlagos, which are much higher than they used to be and do not allow the drivers to go over them.
Track temperatures peaked at 50 degrees centigrade for the all-important top 10 shoot out: the hottest seen all weekend. Most drivers completed two runs in Q3, using a set of fresh soft tyres for the final run that decided pole – which went to Rosberg for the fifth consecutive time.

Nico Rosberg
“I didn’t have a good start in to Qualifying. Q1 and Q2 didn’t go to plan. But then I found a better rhythm in the final session, so I was happy to bring it all together in Q3. It feels great to be on pole again here. It’s the best possible position to start the race, I have the quickest car and on Friday we were able to practise a lot for the race, so I’m quite confident for tomorrow. It will be a good battle with Lewis and also the Ferraris, so I can’t wait for that. But what happened yesterday in Paris makes everything else relative. What we do here is really not important compared to that and I’m thinking of them today.”

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:

“Although Interlagos takes a lot out of the tyres, which is why we’re expecting two or three stops tomorrow, the wear and degradation levels are where we would expect them to be at during this stage of the weekend. The biggest factor in the lap time has appeared to be the new layout with the kerbs, which the drivers have had to get used to since they experienced them for the first time yesterday. Track temperatures have been warm, but still nothing like the very hot conditions we found last year in qualifying. With quite a clear performance gap between the two compounds and dry weather, we’re set for a few different strategy options tomorrow, which the teams will be calculating carefully tonight.”

The Pirelli strategy predictor:
With wear and degradation levels lower than one year ago on this circuit, two different two-stop strategies are theoretically the quickest options for the 71-lap race tomorrow, although a three-stop is possible as well, depending on factors such as traffic and track position. A three-stopper would be: start on the soft tyre and then change to soft again on laps 15 and 30, before moving to mediums on lap 46 to the end. The two quickest two-stoppers are: start on soft, change to medium on lap 17, medium again on lap 44. Alternatively: start on medium, change to soft on lap 27 and then medium on lap 44. The time difference between these three strategies is minimal

Formula One: Speeds top 336KPH (227MPH) as Nico Rosberg wins in Mexico – Pirelli Race Review

GP MESSICO F1/2015

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.”

Formula One: Pirelli Review Mexican GP Practice Sessions

GP MESSICO F1/2015

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:

Soft Medium Intermediate Wet
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.