Chassis Technical Director with the Renault Sport Formula One Team, Nick Chester, says that the team have been able to learn “a lot” in the short time they have been racing in Mexico.
Chester says that running the car at the heights of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit causes some problems, and although the altitude issue can be rectified, it is not without compromises.
“The high altitude affects many aspects of the car,” said Chester. “The air is less dense, so that means there’s less downforce and drag for a given wing setting, the air is less effective at cooling the engine and there’s less oxygen going into the engine.
“The effect of the altitude on the engine is mitigated by the force induction from the turbo, but the turbo has to spin faster to generate pressure.
“The effect of the air density on particularly noticeable as we run a Monaco level of wing in Mexico, but this only equates to an effective Monza level of downforce on the car.”
Chester said they have also added to their knowledge in terms of effective set ups for the track, which allow them to get the best out of the car.
“We’ve learnt a lot already and there were some interesting lessons, particularly in terms of cooling from the first years and we know a lot more on this and set-up than when we first arrived,” he added.
“Simulations are very important, but there’s nothing like getting out on track to learn all the nuances.”
Chief Race Engineer, Ciaron Pilbeam, has said that the stand-out feature of the Mexico circuit is its high attitude, and that the subsequent low pressure reduces downforce, which means that the actual available downforce is less than at Monza.
“The overriding feature of this circuit is its altitude,” said Pilbeam. “At over 2,200m is much higher than either Interlargos in Brazil or the Red Bull Ring in Austria, both of which are around 780m.
“The low atmospheric pressure reduces downforce and drag – the effective downforce is considerably below the levels run at Monza and top speeds are the highest of the year.”
Mexico is a low grip circuit, and the cooling systems in the cars are not as effective as usual, so special alterations have to be made.
“The grip is low and the effectiveness of all the cooling on the car is reduced, so specific cooling packages are required for the power unit and brakes for this circuit,” said Pilbeam.