Topping 450,000 over the course of a weekend at the Circuit of the Americas is a difficult task. The US Grand Prix saw action from start to finish, and throughout the field. Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton nearly got their first win of the season, but ultimately there was no stopping Max Verstappen as Red Bull clinched the Constructors’ Championship. But expect quite the scene in Mexico City as Formula 1 and Sergio Perez roll into town.
Over the past week, there were several big F1 announcements. Williams confirmed that American Logan Sargeant will drive in F1 next season, pending he remains in the top six of the F2 Championship (currently 3rd). ESPN announced a new three-year extension of their commercial-free F1 coverage. Haas landed a new title sponsor, MoneyGram, which should allow the team to match the budget of the top teams. And on Wednesday Audi revealed will partner with Sauber, in place of Alfa Romeo, starting in 2026.
Turning our attention back to the Mexico City Grand Prix, here are five stories to watch this weekend.
1. Sergio Perez
Formula 1 has long been a popular sport in Mexico. Sergio Perez’s arrival in F1 back in 2011 heightened that interest. The excitement hit yet another level in 2020 when Perez won the final race of the season for BWT Racing Point, in what seemed at the time his final F1 race. Instead, he returned as Red Bull’s second driver and suddenly Mexico had a regular podium contender to cheer on. Last year produced tremendous scenes with Checo landing the final spot on the Mexico City GP podium and celebrations from his father. Having already won twice this year, can Perez pull off what would become an iconic F1 moment and become the first Mexican driver to win the Mexican Grand Prix?
2. Altitude & Overheating
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is by far the highest circuit on the F1 calendar. Sitting over 7,300 feet above sea level results in less oxygen and higher temperatures. Any issues with overheating power units or brakes will be amplified this weekend. Red Bull, Mercedes, and McLaren are just a few of the teams to suffer overheating brake issues earlier in the season. While the cars have evolved throughout the year expect some teams to struggle initially during Friday practice sessions as they search for the right balance.
3. Most Wins in a Single Season Record
Of course, Perez’s teammate has his own reason for wanting to claim the top step in Mexico City. If Max Verstappen wins it will be his 14th of the season, a new record for the most wins by a driver in a single season. He is currently tied at 13 wins with Sebastian Vettel (2013) and Michael Schumacher (2004). Verstappen has downplayed the record stating the increased number of races per season makes it hard to compare. However, if he wins all three of the final races this season he will surpass both Vettel and Schumacher on win percentage in their record-breaking campaigns.
4. The Final Seat for 2023
With Williams announcing their plans for the 2023 season, pending Sargeant’s Super License, which only leaves one seat waiting to be confirmed. The second seat at Haas alongside Kevin Magnussen. It appears to be down to Mick Schumacher vs. Nico Hülkenberg. One is 35 years old, the current Aston Martin reserve driver with 181 starts in F1, zero wins or podiums, but over 500 career points. The other is a Formula 2 and Formula 3 champion, son of 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, with 40 career starts, backing from Ferrari (for now), likely favored by Liberty Media (owners of F1), but has just 12 career points and a costly damage bill this season. Will Haas opt for experience with a known ceiling or believe that Schumacher can take a big step forward next season? And will their new lead sponsor impact their decision?
5. F1 & FIA in the Hot Seat
To say it has been a tumultuous past two seasons for the FIA and F1 is an understatement. Recently the F1 race directors and stewards have drawn criticism for their handling of the rain delays in Singapore and Japan, as well as the tractor on the circuit at Suzuka while cars were still driving. Heading into the Mexican GP their handling of two additional situations looms over the weekend.
First, is the decision to penalize Fernando Alonso 30-seconds post-race dropping him from 7th to 15th when his right wing mirror fell off during the US GP. The protest came from Haas and has since been challenged by Alpine and Alonso. The stewards met on Thursday evening and subsequently reversed their penalty decision on Alonso, who now retains his 7th-place finish. Another example of hesitation and a lack of clarity in the rulings by the FIA.
But of far more importance is Red Bull’s punishment for breaching the cost cap. We expected to hear the results last weekend, but the FIA and Red Bull paused those conversations after the passing of Dietrich Mateschitz. Will we get the news in Mexico City, and if so, will the rest of the F1 paddock be satisfied with the findings and penalties?
How To Watch (all times ET)
- Mexico City GP Preview Show: Friday 10/28 – 1:00 pm – ESPN3/WatchESPN
- Practice 1 – Friday 10/28 – 1:55 pm – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Practice 2 – Friday 10/28 – 4:55 pm – ESPNEWS/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Practice 3 – Saturday 10/29 – 12:55 pm – ESPNEWS/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Qualifying – Saturday 10/29 – 3:55 pm – ESPNEWS/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Grand Prix Sunday (Pre-race Show) – Sunday 10/30 – 2:30 pm – ESPN/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Grand Prix Race – Sunday 10/30 – 3:55 pm – ESPN/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN