“The stewards also found that while Renault used ‘innovative solutions to exploit certain ambiguities’, the system was not in breach of the F1 Technical Regulations. However, Renault were found to have breached F1’s Sporting Regulations relating to driver aids. F1 rules state the driver must drive the car alone and unaided, and the stewards found that the system meant the drivers were saved from making a number of adjustments during a lap, even if it wasn’t a substitute for driver skills or reflexes.”
It’s these words that have seen the F1 stewards find Renault technically guilty of the charge levied against them by Racing Point after the Japanese F1 round. As a result, both Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo have been stripped of their drivers’ points and the team of their championship points. It’s also seen the drivers that finished behind both Ricciardo and Hulkenberg move up in the post-Japan race standings. This also sees Racing Point gain five constructors’ championship points, and Toro Rosso three.
The claim from Racing Point, formerly Force India, was that Renault were using a ‘pre-set, automated brake bias system’. Video from the Renault cars’ on-board cameras allegedly showed the brake bias altering without any seeming input from the drivers. Renault do have the right of appeal.
Also under the microscope for Mexico is what appears to be an increasingly fractured relationship between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc. Both drivers have expressed their dissatisfaction with what may or not be “team orders” in respect to pit stops and positioning of cars for aerodynamic advantages. Leclerc’s form this year is clearly a thorn in Vettel’s side, and that’s translated to Leclerc having a nine point advantage over his older and more experienced team mate. Team leader Mattia Binotto said: “No, I don’t think there is the risk of losing control because there is a difference between not managing drivers and at least having the intent to manage them.”
On the fringes of this are the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Bottas won in solid fashion at Suzuka, with Hamilton expected to tie up the drivers’ championship this weekend. Bottas current sees 274 points next to his name, with Hamilton over two rounds clear at 338. With 25 points for a win, and with Bottas having any logical chance of snaring the championship, he’d need an intervention from whichever deity he follows to have Hamilton not finish in the remaining four rounds. It does seem more likely that Hamilton will nail his sixth drivers’ championship in Mexico City, and Bottas will consolidate second.
Leclerc is in 3rd, and has 223 points. He’s eleven ahead of both Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. This leads to a possibility of any of the three holding down 3rd after the American F1 GP, and, more enticingly, fireworks from Ferrari’s warring drivers.
The Formula 1 Gran Premio De Mexico at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez sees practice starting at 10am local time on Friday, October 25. Qualifying sees the cars hit the track from 13:00 on Saturday, with the race starting at 14:10 on Sunday, October 27. The race distance is 71 laps over the 4.304 kilometres of track, with 17 corners and one very long straight. Total race distance is 305.357 kilometres. Bottas has form here with a fastest lap time of 1:18.741 last year.
What makes this race unique in the calendar is the height. Located at 2000 metres above sea level, oxygen levels are around 4% lower than at sea level, meaning drivers, teams, and cars, will have to work harder for the same result.