The Mexican Grand Prix in the last five years, at the Hermanos Rodríguez Autodrome, has been a hunting ground reserved only for Red Bull and Mercedes, where the Austrians won in 2017, 2018 and 2021, while the Germans did the same in 2016 and 2019 [in 2020 there was no competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic].
Throughout those seasons, Ferrari has been a mere spectator, and the fact is that the Mexican track is very peculiar due to a specific characteristic, its altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level.
With that figure, the air is not the same as in other places, and the equipment is forced to resort to specific configurations to compromise less its performance and guarantee reliability.
In thousand horsepower power units, up to 120 hp can be lost, although if balanced with aerodynamic efficiency, they would remain at 100 compared to when they are at sea level, so it is clear that they must take advantage of the maximum potential available. .
Red Bull has benefited from having a slightly different car to what they were used to, prioritizing top speed over aerodynamics. In the past, Adrian Newey -designed cars excelled around corners thanks to their high rake [the elevation of the rear end relative to the front], and shone less on the straights, where Mercedes made the most of its engine.
Not only that, but Honda’s turbo, with a larger supercharger than the rest of the field, had limited the loss of power with the supercharging system thanks to containing more compressed air.
With the arrival of single-seaters with ground effect, values have changed considerably, and Red Bull has become the flagship of top speed, with a very efficient car, but one that is capable of competing with less load. That is why we can ask ourselves, will they be able to maintain a balance in the RB18 in Mexico to continue dominating with the long straights?
The question is interesting, because this time Ferrari and Mercedes are the ones that are more comfortable with the rest of the cars, and they could take advantage of the characteristics of the F1-75 and the W13 to win a victory in Mexican lands.
The simulations of the Prancing Horse give positive data, and perhaps in different conditions, they could not suffer from the degradation in the race due to altitude, something that has weighed them down significantly in recent Grand Prix.
Detail of the engine of the Ferrari F1-75, the 066/7
As for exploiting the potential of the turbocharger, Honda maintains the most suitable solution for this type of high-altitude air, while Ferrari has chosen a smaller supercharging system, intended to reach a rotational speed of 100,000 rpm, without reaching to the limit allowed by the regulation [125,000 rpm], in order to have less delay in response time and guarantee good acceleration when exiting corners.
In Mexico, the recovery of the load should have a greater value than the loss of power, and if the Maranello engineers achieve a good compromise in the set-up, it does not seem crazy to think of the first victory of those in red since the Austrian Grand Prix in July.
Mercedes is also hopeful after making a good impression in Austin with its W13, a car that Toto Wolff has described as a parachute in drag but could benefit from what is a flaw in Mexico. Brackley’s team will also have a modified front wing after its ‘illegality’ in the United States, so it is another incentive to see the Germans finally step forward.
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