There’s a school of thought that defines a gentleman as someone who knows how to play the accordion but doesn’t. And while that philosophy holds true for about 99 per cent of the world’s nations, there is one exception – Mexico, where the mariachi roam free and where the howl of hybrid turbos is only enhanced by the sound of accordions, guitars and trumpets blaring out the chorus to Cielito Lindo or Volver, Volver.
Yes, indeed, its Round 18 and we’re off to Mexico City and the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez for one of the season’s standout races.
The Mexican Grand Prix is without doubt one of our favourites of the year, not just because the organisers regularly put up a churro stand in the paddock, but because over the past couple of years it’s become a highly profitable venue for the Team.
When F1 returned to Mexico in 2015 we got off to a middling start of fourth and fifth places, but in 2016 Daniel Ricciardo handed us our first Mexican GP podium with a well-worked third place.
That result effectively broke the seal at the Hermanos Rodríguez. In 2017, Max Verstappen planted his RB13 on the front row and at the start muscled his way to the front to lead every lap of a faultless drive to his second career win.
And last year Max and the Team doubled down in Mexico. On Saturday, Daniel Ricciardo edged Max to take a brilliant pole position, but in the race Max was simply irresistible, and the Dutchman marched to a second consecutive Mexican Grand Prix victory.
It’s no surprise then that Max is itching to get back to Mexico City. And the fiesta fever has also infected Alex who heads west on the back of his best ever F1 result…
You’re currently the undisputed maestro of Mexico, with back-to-back wins at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. You must be excited by the prospect of fighting for a hat-trick of victories?
I’m looking forward to going back to Mexico, as the last two years have been pretty special there with the two wins. The Mexican Grand Prix is a great event and the fans are very passionate about Formula One. The people are very friendly and they have a relaxed kind of mentality, which I like, plus the food is really good.
Talking about the passion, the atmosphere at the track, particularly in the Foro Sol stadium section, is one of the best of the season isn’t it?
There are massive crowds at the race and the atmosphere at the track with the mariachi bands, the DJs on the podium and everything else the organisers put on is pretty cool.
Obviously the Team has had a lot of success in Mexico City. What is it about the track that you like?
I really enjoy driving there. The track is very different as it’s at high altitude, which makes it low grip. The corners are also very technical so you have to work hard to make sure you get the best out of it but it’s a good track for us normally. I expect it to be a little bit more difficult this year because of Ferrari’s pace but I think we can still have a very good race.
Fifth place in Russia, fourth in Japan – you’re on a real roll at the moment. Can you carry that through to Mexico?
After getting my best result of the season in Japan, I’ve got good confidence and direction heading to Mexico. Japan felt like my best weekend with the Team and we’re gelling more and more, so yes, I look forward to carrying that momentum into Mexico.
What are you expecting from the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez?
Historically it’s been a good track for Red Bull with pole position and a win there last year so obviously that’s positive. Like Suzuka, it will be another new track for me but this one looks a little more forgiving! I’m also really excited to drive in the infield section where all the fans are as I’ve heard that’s pretty special. Mexico and the US will be the last back-to-back races of the season and I can’t wait to get out there and check out both tracks.