The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (literally Rodríguez Brothers Racetrack) is a Grand Prix circuit located in the Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City, in the heart of Mexico City. Named for Mexican brothers Ricardo and Pedro Rodríguez, both of whom competed in F1, the circuit hosted the World Championship Mexican Grand Prix between 1963 and 1970, 1986–1992 and a non-championship event in 1962.
The track is at an elevation of 2,285m (7,500 ft). The only Formula One track that came close to that figure was Kyalami Circuit, at a bit over 1,500m (4,900 ft). Because Mexico City is in an enclosed valley, the pollution and high altitude is problematic for the cars and personnel.
Around 1960, a group of local businessmen wanted to attract Formula One to Mexico. The location chosen was a largely undeveloped park in the Magdalena Mixhuca district of Ciudad de Mexico. The project created a race track, along with soccer fields, tennis courts and baseball diamonds. The track was named for the district, and was completed in 1962, in time to hold the required non-championship race. Sadly, that event was marred by the death of local hero Ricardo Rodríguez, who was killed when his Lotus-Climax suffered a failure, and swerved into the barrier at the Peralta curve. However, the Mexican Grand Prix was added to the calendar anyway.
The race proved quite popular, but in 1970, the popularity went too far. On race day, some 250,000 people overwhelmed circuit security, tore down fencing, and stood watching the race from the edge of the tarmac. Guard rails became places to sit, children ran across the track, and the teams wanted the race postponed until the situation could be stabilized. The organizers stated that insurance would cover any incidents, and that they would have the army seize the cars unless the race continued. Without any real choice, the teams went on with the race, with only some minor incidents. But as soon as the teams were out of the country, the FIA announced that Mexico was banned from hosting any international racing indefinitely. The ban would last 16 years.
1986 brought new organizers, new sponsors, a new track name, a new configuration with more safety and runoff room, new pit complex, and most importantly a new attitude regarding organization and security. Gone was the stereotypical 'don't worry about it' mindset. The track was completely lined with double layers of spectator fencing, with armed soldiers patrolling the gap. The 'El Rodeo' hairpin was gone, simplifying security and allowing for grandstands to be erected at the south end of the circuit. The only issue was the surface, which was at least as bumpy as it had been before. But the race was a success, with the organizers winning the award for best organized race. This time, the race ran every year until 1992, after which the sponsors ran into financial difficulties.
A stable economy and government support helped the race return in 2015. Once again, the track had been modified and updated. Much of the track was torn up, and new foundations added, and for now the race appears to be a stable addition to the calendar.
The original circuit came from a proposal for a banked, one mile oval track in the northwest corner of the park. A plan was created that would utilize the irregular shape of the park, but still accommodate public sports such as football, baseball and tennis. The oval was constructed, but only the west end was banked; this would become known as the La Peraltada corner. So the track had the odd situation of the road course running clockwise, but the oval being used going anti-clockwise.
The Grand Prix course went from the Peraltada, heading due east past the pits and start/finish, for more than three fourths of a mile before the cars would turn into a decreasing radius righthander known as Spiral, then through a short, tight lefthander onto the half-mile back straight. That straight ended at a left-right S bend (known as Ese del Lago), then down a shorter straight to the La Rodeo hairpin. This corner rivaled the Station Bend at Monaco, as it was so tight that there was only enough width for two people standing between the guard rails inside the corner (and is much tighter than the diagram suggests). But the track surface itself was nine meters wide, so an opportunistic driver with a nimble car just might be able to make a successful pass.
A couple of short straightaways, separated by a quick left/right combination, led the drivers into Los Eses, a five corner sequence that is as difficult as any in racing. Numbered as turns nine through 13 at the time, each by itself is not particularly difficult. But the left-right-left-right-left bends require a very balanced setup and absolute precision on the part of the driver. These corners lead onto the return straight, ending at La Peraltada. Making a mistake here means a loss of exit speed heading into well over a mile of flat-out speed.
The return in 1986 also brought several changes to the course. Tactical refueling and tire changing required new pits, along with a much longer pit road. The Spiral corner at the end of the front straight went right up against the fences at the edge of the park, so a sharper right-left-right combination was put in further up the straight, allowing a better passing zone, runoff room and space for grandstands. And the La Rodeo hairpin was chopped off; in its place, further back on the short straight, was the first of now eight consecutive but alternating direction corners.
Once again, the track had been modified and updated. Much of the track was torn up, and new foundations added. The pits were rebuilt further from the track, allowing for a wider pit road. The south end of the course was reduced to three corners, with a short straight connecting to the esses. And the largest change was a La Peraltada. A baseball stadium had been constructed inside the corner in 2000, but in 2014 the team was evicted, and the grandstands now overlooked a slow complex of corners, before the cars rejoined a flattened Peraltada about halfway through, which in turn greatly reduced the entry speed onto the front straight. This stadium section also faces the new location of the rostrum, so that up to 50,000 people can watch the ceremonies.
The following is a list of Formula One World Championship events held at Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez:
|Mexican Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (1963-1970, 1986-1992, 2015)|
|Races||1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971–1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993–2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017|
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