After the United States Grand Prix, which was held last weekend at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, the North American double-header continued with the Mexico City Grand Prix. As always, the race takes place at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, a circuit which has some unusual features, including the longest distance from the start line to the braking point for the first corner, at 811 metres.
Thomas Bouché, Scuderia Ferrari Head of Aerodynamic Track Performance Group, previews the Mexican Grand Prix, pinpointing the most important relevant characteristics of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez and what it means for teams to race at more than 2.000 meters above sea level:
Can you talk us through the roots of your passion for motorsport. Where does it come from and how did you come to be at Ferrari?
Thomas Bouché: “My passion for motorsport and Formula 1 started at quite an early age, fueled by the Prost-Senna battles and by having French drivers, Prost but also Jean Alesi, at the Scuderia in the early 90s. I had growing interests in technological innovations and developments that are very unique to Formula 1, and also spent a few years behind the wheel in junior formulas and feeder series. After a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering, I started gaining experience in lower formula categories and as a race engineer in Sportscar championships, before joining Formula 1 in 2007, eventually in charge of aerodynamic development groups. As an engineer and Formula 1 enthusiast, joining Scuderia Ferrari was a strong goal of mine and the opportunity finally happened early in 2018”.
Can you talk us about the track at Mexico City? Which are the more relevant characteristics?
Thomas Bouché: “The truly unique aspect of the Mexico City circuit is its elevation: 2.238 metres above sea level, which means the air density is 20% less than at sea level. It is a short lap, one of the shortest on the calendar, but nevertheless features a long straight, almost 1.300 kilometres, where the majority of the overtaking happens in the race. The modern layout that has been in use since 2015 doesn’t have particularly challenging high speed cornering sectors, especially since the last corner, the glorious “Peraltada”, was replaced with a very low speed and twisty stadium section. Low speed cornering actually dominates, and makes traction capabilities a key factor on this track”.
Show your support for Scuderia Ferrari with official merchandise collection! Click here to enter the F1 online Store and shop securely! And also get your F1 tickets for every race with VIP hospitality and unparalleled insider access. Click here for the best offers to support Charles and Carlos from the track!
We are racing at more than 2.000 meters above sea level, but despite the long straights the cars will be adopting a high downforce configuration. Can you explain what does it mean to race in thin air?
Thomas Bouché: “The air density reduction due to the high altitude is one of the biggest challenges of the season: the aerodynamic forces are considerably reduced and we end up with low downforce loads, Monza equivalent, whilst running front and rear wing configurations used in Monaco. The turbocharged engines mean that power unit efficiency is only affected by a small amount and so acceleration and top speed capabilities, helped by reduced aerodynamic drag, are one of the highest of the calendar. This brings considerable challenges on the engine and brake cooling fronts: current Formula 1 cars have not been designed and optimised to operate in this very particular window and so these aspects will be closely monitored and managed throughout the weekend. It can even become critical in close racing, when running in dirty air following other cars”.
Leave a Reply