Mexico GP 2021 - Alpine F1 preview

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By Olivier Ferret

2 November 2021 - 17:18
Mexico GP 2021 - Alpine F1 preview

Marcin Budkowski

The team left Austin with a taste of disappointment as both cars failed to finish the race. Heading to Mexico with additional motivation to bounce back quickly, Executive Director Marcin Budkowski previews the unique challenges of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez.

After a no score in Austin, how does the team reflect on the race weekend?

It was the first time in over two years that both our cars did not see the chequered flag. We are investigating Fernando’s rear wing issue and taking all the measures to ensure it will not happen again this season. It would have been a great achievement had Fernando finished in the points after starting from the back of the grid. Esteban’s race was compromised by early damage and he was unable to recover from that. Following concerns during the race, we have checked his car and confirmed that everything is OK ahead of Mexico. In general, though, we were not competitive enough in Austin. Intense work has been going on across all technical departments since we returned from the USA to gain better understanding of our issues, which provided us with valuable learning for the remaining races.

What are the main challenges of racing in Mexico?

Mexico, with its high altitude, poses a unique challenge. The air is thinner at 2,000m above sea level and that impacts the aerodynamics and engine behaviour. Racing in Mexico is certainly atypical as the cars run a Monaco level wing that generates a Monza level of downforce, making the car feel light and low grip. It’s a challenge to cool the engine and brakes as well and teams tend to run their maximum cooling packages at normal ambient temperatures.

What is the team’s plan of action for the upcoming triple header?

This is the beginning of an unusual combination of races which take us from Central and South America through to the Middle East. Although exciting, it will be tough on the team and pose stringent logistical challenges. It’s an important time of the year to remain close as a team, look out for one another during such a busy time and keep team spirit high.

Esteban Ocon

After retiring from the United States Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon heads to Mexico fully motivated to return to the points. It’s a track with happy memories for the Frenchman after finishing fifth there in 2017, as he eyes up another positive result at the Autodrom Hermanos Rodriguez.

What did you learn from Austin?

We need to return to form after a disappointing weekend in Austin. It was not the weekend we were hoping for there even if we made improvements in every session. We’ve analysed it and we’ll come back stronger in Mexico. The difference in the fight for fifth will be scoring consistently with both cars and that’s our target for Mexico.

What do you like about racing in Mexico?

It’s always cool to visit Mexico City as it’s quite an electric place. There’s a nice buzz there when Formula 1 visits and we haven’t been there for a couple of years so I’m sure the atmosphere is going to be special this year. In between Austin and here, I spent a little bit of time on holiday in Mexico and it’s a great place. After a short rest, I’m feeling fresh and ready to take on this weekend.

How much do you enjoy racing at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez?

The circuit is a good one to race at. It’s pretty tough for a number of reasons but mainly because of the high altitude, which affects the power unit and finding a good set-up. Actually, the cars are set to high downforce, but it feels like it’s low downforce because of the conditions. Usually the car feels light and low grip and that’s a challenge to get used to. It’ll be much different to Austin in some aspects, as it’s much flatter and smoother tarmac. I’ve had some good results there in the past, like finishing fifth in 2017, so I can see no reason why we can’t get back into a rhythm and back into form soon.

Is it refreshing to see more and more fans attend races?

Austin set the bar for atmosphere this year and it was great to see so many passionate fans in the grandstands on race day. It makes a huge difference racing in front of so many people as it brings a really cool energy. Usually Mexico is one of best races of the year for atmosphere. Driving through the stadium section is a real highlight and I can’t wait to experience that this year.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso heads to Mexico City for his fifth Mexican Grand Prix in Formula 1. After his exciting charge from the back of the Austin grid ended due to retirement, Fernando is looking to steer the team back into the points in front of the raucous Mexican crowd this weekend.

What were your thoughts on the weekend in Austin?

It was a difficult weekend for us as a team. We struggled from Friday onwards and couldn’t find the balance we had in Turkey, where it was arguably the best car I’ve driven all season. We also took the decision to change the power unit so that it’s fresh for the rest of the season and it meant starting from the back of the grid on Sunday. Despite this it’s a fun track to try make up ground on, and we had a shot at finishing in the points before the rear wing issue on my car. Outside of the racing it was great to see the support the fans had for the sport. I think America has really grown to love Formula 1 and we felt that during the whole weekend in Austin.

What do you think of Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez?

It’s another fun track where there are good overtaking opportunities and a very long straight. We go to another race where the atmosphere is great, and the stadium section of the track is like no other on the calendar. I love football and it reminds me a lot of a football stadium when you are in that final sector. It’s usually a hot race and the altitude is high, so it puts huge stresses on us and the car.

It’s the beginning of another triple header of races. What does it take as a driver when you have three race weekends in a row?

We are familiar with this now as it’s been like this in the past few years of Formula 1. The hardest thing will be the amount of travel in the next three weeks as it’s quite long distances between each race. Making sure you get some decent recovery and rest will be crucial to keep up the energy. In between races we’ll be making sure to do all the right things to aid recovery after a weekend of racing. It’s also important that all of the staff get some time to recover too. Everybody is working in a high-pressure environment during a race weekend, so it’s vital they’re given enough time to recover properly.

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