Tanabe confirms worries for Mexican GP: "We're not expecting an easy weekend"

23-10-2019 09:34
by Matt Gretton
General
Tanabe confirms worries for Mexican GP: We're not expecting an easy weekend

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing have claimed the last two victories in Mexico. Max Verstappen climbed the top step of the podium in 2017 and 2018 but Honda believes it'll be tough to match that performance in 2019. They fear their rivals have made bigger steps since the summer break. 

The 4.4km track is located at over 2,000m above sea level (~7,500ft). The high altitude causes strain on both the driver and the engine as the thinner air means it's harder to cool down. The Renault engine that was in the back of the Red Bull Racing car has managed to battle this. But will the Honda engine be able to master it as well?

In his race preview, Toyoharu Tanabe explains the issues surrounding the thinner air and the knock-on effect this has on their engines. 

"The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez poses many interesting questions for both chassis and PU engineers, most of them linked to the fact that Mexico City sits at 2.3 kilometres above sea level. The low air density means the PU turbine has to work harder to deliver the same power as at other tracks, therefore we have to adjust our power unit settings accordingly," Tanabe said.

"The fact the air is thinner also means it is less effective at cooling car components and the power unit and it also affects the aero efficiency, so that cars run in high downforce configuration."

Last year, Toro Rosso were running with the Honda engine in preparation for the move to Red Bull Racing. Pierre Gasly started the race from P20 but he managed to climb into the points. Tanabe is confident Honda can use the data from previous races at this track to find the right set-up, though he's worried about the improvements made by Ferrari and Mercedes

"We have data from past races to refer to when it comes to preparing for the weekend, but we have seen a clear improvement in performance from some of our competitors over recent races, therefore we are not expecting this to be an easy weekend for us. Historically, the Mexican Grand Prix is a significant race for us as it was at this circuit that Honda took its first-ever Formula 1 win with its own car, back in 1965 and we hope to perform well again this weekend," he added. 

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