Since returning to the calendar in 2015 the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez has made itself one of Formula 1’s favorite destinations – and there are two good reasons in particular.
One is that the venue connects Mexico with its marvelous racing past; the other is how the knowledgeable Mexican fans make the race weekend a special occasion for everyone who takes part, and Renault driver Nico Hülkenberg summed it all up ahead of the fourth race of the new AHR era.
‘Mexico is one of these places that has a special atmosphere,’ said the 31-year-old German who has raced in all three events here in the 21st century. ‘The circuit is quite old and carries a lot of history. When you visit the track, you feel that connection to racing, similar to places like Interlagos or Silverstone, and that’s something I like a lot. The fans are so welcoming and passionate and that makes it a fun race weekend.’
A man having his final race at AHR – at least for the foreseeable future – is Fernando Alonso, and the great Spanish driver is looking forward to being back. ‘Fans always welcome us in such a warm and enthusiastic way,’ says the two-time world champion who is leaving McLaren at the end of 2018.
‘The atmosphere at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez is also unique, especially in the Stadium section, where the view is overwhelming and you get so close to the fans that you can even hear them roaring when you drive through.’
That’s a feeling shared by Frenchman Romain Grosjean, the Haas driver who has also taken part in all three races here so far. ‘There’s a great atmosphere in Mexico,’ he says, ‘it’s probably one of the best of the year. The driver parade, going through the stadium, is special. During the race you don’t see it, but after the checkered flag it’s great to see. The podium being there makes for a great image: it looks awesome from the outside.’
Like Alonso, Carlos Sainz feels right at home at AHR. ‘Mexicans are clearly very passionate for Formula 1,’ says the 24-year-old who will leave Renault to join McLaren in 2019. You get a real sense of that during the weekend: they only have Checo to root for and as they are Spanish-speaking, you could say Fernando and I are also quite well supported there, at least that’s how I feel.’
If it’s Spanish-speaking you want, probably best not to go to Daniel Ricciardo! But the Australian’s sentiments are what Mexican fans would wish to hear: ‘Ah Mejico, mucho bueno!’ says the Red Bull star. ‘The area where we stay is great, the hotel is beautiful and the atmosphere in the paddock is full of life.
‘There’s just a really good spirit, lots of face paint, lots of dia de los muertos stuff going on and I love that they have Mariachi bands everywhere. I love the stadium section, that’s unique and the crowd there is insane. The podium looks awesome, so hopefully I can taste a bit of that this year.’
Of course we can’t celebrate Mexico without a comment from Sergio Pérez himself. ‘Racing in Mexico is the highlight of the season for me,’ Checo says. ‘The excitement each time we go back there is the same. When I see the busy grandstands, I feel very proud and the support from the people is fantastic. The energy of the crowd really motivates me and the drivers’ parade is always a very emotional moment.’
But the last word has to go to Carlos Sainz. As the Spaniard puts it, ‘It’s great to see the fans on the drivers’ parade and it’s a nice feeling to say “Hola” to over 200,000 people!’