The 2015 Formula 1 season will see the return of the Mexican Grand Prix for the first time since Nigel Mansell won the fabled race in 1992. The race will return to its home at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and will be run on November 1, 2015, back to back with the American Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. The return of the Grand Prix is a return to a track notoriously challenging for both driver and car and one that promises a wealth of edge-of-your seat racing for fans across the globe.
The Mexican Grand Prix was first run in 1962 at the circuit Magdelana Mixhuca. The track ran through the middle of Mexico City in a park that was nestled within its confines. It had a sweeping 180 degree corner, called Peraltada that led to the end of the lap and challenged even the most capable of drivers. In addition to the tremendous, expansive corners the track sat at an elevation of 7,380 feet above sea level, a fact that made the race all the more challenging. Jim Clark and Lotus took the victory, a special feat since Clark had been black flagged at the beginning of the race for getting a push start. Misfortune, however clouded the event as Ricardo Rodriguez, a young Mexican driver was killed after plowing through the Peraltada corner. The official inclusion of the event on the Formula 1 calendar occurred in the next year and again Clark took the win.
The race continued to grow in popularity. By 1964 the battle for both the Constructor’s and the Driver’s Championship sat firmly on the shoulders of the rapidly growing event. Jim Clark, John Surtees, and Graham Hill all had a chance and the stage was set for an epic battle of legends. The lead was swapped several times and finally, on the last lap, Clark’s engine seized and American driver Dan Gurney surged to the lead. Bandini was in second and Surtees in third. However, Ferrari ordered Bandini to allow Surtees past, allowing Surtees to take second place and the championship over Graham Hill by one point.
The circuit continued to foster brilliant racing and tremendous competition. In 1968 again three drivers went into the race with a chance at the championship, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, and Denny Hulme. Hulme’s car ended up having rear suspension problems that forced him from the race. Likewise, Stewart had engine issues that also caused an early retirement for him. Hill, however, had no problem and thundered to victory without so much as a hiccup. By 1970, however, the race was dropped from the Formula 1 schedule much to the dismay of the 200,000 plus crowd in attendance to see Pedro Rodriguez.
In the early 1980s the track underwent a facelift. IndyCar had come and brought with it a revitalization of racing in the region. In addition, the track was renamed for Mexico’s two lost racers and Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was born. In 1986, with a shorter and safer circuit, Formula 1 returned to Mexico. Gerhard Berger, who was ill at the time, took the win in his Benetton B186. Over the next several races, dramatic finishes and explosive relationship were the rule, with the 1987 race being run in two pieces and Nigel Mansell winning by time, and the battle between Prost and Senna reaching its peak on the turns and straights of the historic track. The track was, however, notoriously uneven and bumpy and by the end of the 1992 season the race had been dropped from the F1 schedule yet again.
In 2011 the first whispers of a return of the Mexican Grand Prix could be heard up and down the pit lane and by 2013 the whispers had become a roar. The Mexican Grand Prix would be back on the Formula 1 schedule in 2014. The FIA, however, did not include the race on the 2014 calendar due to the fact that upgrades to the track and other preparations need still be made before the event could be added to the schedule. In July of 2014, Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that the race was indeed on the schedule, starting in 2015, for five years.
So what do drivers have to look forward to at the new and improved Autodromo Hermans Rodriguez? The Peraltada corner has, in fact, been softened. The corner is, without question, still a challenge to drivers, it has been smoothed to flow more smoothly with the rest of track. The track has also been shortened and repaved, with all the former paving having been removed first and the paving being laid down with careful precision. In addition, the track has been updated with modern technology that will give drivers, teams, and fans the ultimate F1 experience. Most importantly, however, even with all of the upgrades and changes to the track, the circuit offers a sense of history that few other venues possess. Within the hallowed walls of the Mexican Grand Prix legends have thundered, challenging each other in epic battles that laid the course of Formula 1 history.
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