There’s still plenty left to play for as Formula 1 visits Mexico City. Sergio Perez will be hoping to make the most of Red Bull’s current dominance to win his home race, while battles further down the pack continue to rage on. Here’s what to watch out for at the 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix!
After last weekend’s enthralling United States Grand Prix, F1 takes a trip over the border to Mexico. Both championship titles are wrapped up already, which makes the 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix the first ‘dead rubber’ F1 race in almost two years. Don’t let the name fool you though: ‘dead rubber’ races can be some of the most exciting of the year – think Sergio Perez’s unlikely victory at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is situated in the heart of Mexico City, over 2,000 metres above sea level. The slightly thinner air at this altitude can have a huge effect on the cars and results in some of the fastest speeds seen all year.
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Max on a mission
Max Verstappen heads to the Mexico City Grand Prix already a two-time World Champion and, with his team having won the Constructors’ Championship last weekend, you may think that Red Bull will take a laid back approach to the race weekend. However, there are records on offer which will no doubt spur the team on to further success.
Red Bull have won all of the last eight races. Another win this weekend would see them equal their own personal best streak of nine successive wins, recorded by Sebastian Vettel in the last nine races of the 2013 season. It’s an impressive run for the Milton Keynes-based squad so far and there’s little reason to believe the streak will come to an end in Mexico – on a track at which Red Bull usually run well at.
For Verstappen, he’s in search of his 14th victory of the year. That would be a new record for most wins in a single season, usurping Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel from the top spot. Given that he’s won three of the last four races at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Verstappen could well be on course for a record-breaking fourth win in Mexico in 2022.
Max Verstappen to win the Mexico City Grand Prix4/7
High stakes at high altitude
While the titles may be wrapped up for 2022, there are still plenty of battles to be decided on track over the remaining three races. One of the higher stakes fights among them is the battle for second in the Drivers’ Championship – between Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.
It’s a battle which has gone on throughout the second half of the season. There are only two points separating the duo as it stands. Leclerc secured his fifth podium in a row last weekend and is now on the longest top three streak of his career to date. Although he’s yet to add to his win tally following his victory in July’s Austrian Grand Prix, the regular podium visits have helped the Monegasque driver get ahead of Perez in the championship standings, at least for the time being.
Leclerc has never previously finished on the podium at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with fourth place in 2019 – a race for which he started on pole position – being his best result at the track.
Charles Leclerc Podium Finish1/2
Home race hero
Could Red Bull’s focus switch to Sergio Perez this weekend? The Mexico City Grand Prix marks his home race and it would be the perfect place to get ahead of Leclerc in the battle for second in the championship. Fans have come out in their thousands to support their home hero since the Mexican Grand Prix returned to the F1 calendar in 2015 – and this is undoubtedly their best ever chance to see a home winner.
Attendance figures soared last year when Perez visited his home race with a genuine shot at victory for the first time. While he fell short of the win, Perez delivered his best home result to date with a podium finish, becoming the first Mexican driver to finish on the podium at their home event. A home victory for Perez in 2022 would be an extremely popular – and history-making – result.
Sergio Perez to win the Mexico City Grand Prix9/2
The McLaren vs Alpine battle rages on
Just six points separate Alpine and McLaren in the battle for fourth place in the teams’ standings. Since the summer break the pair have been very evenly matched, with Alpine out-scoring McLaren by only two points.
Alpine head to Mexico feeling hard done by after Fernando Alonso, who drove a magnificent race to seventh place last weekend in the United States Grand Prix, was given a widely regarded unfair post-race time penalty for the COTA race which dropped him well out of the points. Alonso had been overtaken by McLaren’s Lando Norris on the final lap of the race – perhaps a sign that this battle really will go down to the last lap!
The Enstone-based team look likely to out-score McLaren this weekend. Since Mexico returned to the F1 calendar, McLaren have picked up just six points at the track, compared to the 16 scored by Alpine in their various previous guises.
Will Mexico have its 11th consecutive different polesitter?
All of the last ten Formula 1 races in Mexico have had different polesitters. It’s an unusually long streak of different polesitters at a single circuit – beaten only by a handful of other tracks. The streak could quite easily continue this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas are the drivers on the current grid who’ve previously taken pole here. Leclerc is the only driver on that list who seems to have a genuine shot at pole this weekend, barring any strange circumstances. Max Verstappen is a notable omission from this list and is the driver most likely to continue the streak. He did set the fastest time in qualifying for the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix but picked up a grid penalty after ignoring yellow flags on his fastest lap.
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) Fastest Qualifier11/10
Will Sainz’s unusual Mexico streak continue?
And talking of unusual Saturday streaks in Mexico, Carlos Sainz has qualified one position better than the previous Mexico race every time he has visited the Mexican Grand Prix. Starting by qualifying 11th in 2015, he qualified 10th in 2016, 9th in 2017, 8th in 2018, 7th in 2019 and 6th in 2021.
Sainz has qualified outside of the top four only three times so far in 2022 – so perhaps the chances of him qualifying as low as fifth this weekend are quite slim!