Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda‘s Brendon Hartley has prepared for the high altitude of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez by training over the summer in Colorado, USA in a mountain bike race.
Hartley’s United States Grand Prix saw him capture points after starting the race from last place due to engine penalties. He originally ended the race in eleventh place, but disqualification for Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen promoted the New Zealander driver into the points.
In part of a back-to-back weekend in North America, Formula 1 will head to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the Mexican Grand Prix, one of the highest venues in F1 taking place at over 7,500 feet.
The twenty-eight year old driver has previously raced around the circuit outside of Mexico City in WEC and expects the circuit to be a challenge from an engineering and driving point of view.
“It’s another circuit I really enjoy, having raced there and won in the WEC,” said Hartley. “It is a very interesting challenge on the engineering front, with the air density being very low, as the city is over two thousand metres above sea level.
“It means we have a lot less downforce than usual and therefore very high top speeds combined with relatively low grip. The altitude is definitely a factor for the drivers, the team crew and the car.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time at altitude this year, when I went to Colorado for the Leadville 100 MTB race, and I think I will be reasonably well adapted, but you can definitely feel it in the cockpit.”
The 2.6 mile circuit is home to one of the longest and fastest straights in F1, with the cars in the modern V6 Hybrid era reaching up to 230MPH.
The low altitude and long straights will provide a challenge to find a way of cooling the cars, which Hartley highlights as one of the talking points ahead of the Grand Prix.
“Cooling is always a big talking point, so all of these elements combined mean the teams have a lot of factors to get right, and that makes for a very tricky weekend for the car,” commented Hartley.
“The final sector in the “stadium” is very interesting from a driving point of view, very tight and with a great atmosphere. The crowd feels very close and everyone in the city seems to get behind the race. I believe we have a good opportunity to do well there, with the various updates we’ve introduced recently.”