Day of the dead brings Ros­berg to life


Crushed in Austin by an er­ror that handed Hamil­ton both ti­tle and win, Ros­berg was flaw­less in Mex­ico

Un­til he’d rounded the 71st and nal lap of the Mex­i­can GP, you needed to go back four months to nd the last time Nico Ros­berg had won a grand prix. It was in Aus­tria on 21 June. Much has hap­pened since then, in­clud­ing the mis­take one week ago that meant the ti­tle was won by his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamil­ton. But at a packed Autó­dromo Her­manos Ro­dríguez dur­ing the an­nual fes­ti­val ‘the day of the dead’, a rein­vig­o­rated Ros­berg found him­self once more on top of the podium.

The rst Mex­i­can Grand Prix in 23 years was a re­mark­able engi­neer­ing test for ev­ery team up and down the shiny new pit­lane. The rareed at­mos­phere of Mex­ico City (at 2,250m above sea level) had a direct ef­fect on down­force, the cool­ing of both brakes and en­gines, and power.

The thin air at the Tilke-tweaked cir­cuit meant there was very low aero­dy­namic efciency with a lift over drag ra­tio of around 1.5. This meant teams ran steep, Monaco-style wings that only cre­ated Monza lev­els of down­force. The min­i­mal air re­sis­tance cre­ated less drag, so on the main straight speeds topped a whop­ping 227mph.

But the in­creased top speeds put ex­tra strain on the brakes, and the re­duced air pres­sure had a signicant ef­fect on cool­ing. Ad­di­tional ducts had to be cut around the brakes and en­gine cov­ers to help keep down tem­per­a­tures, but that had the knock-on ef­fect of re­duc­ing aero­dy­namic per­for­mance. The up­shot of that was re­duced grip, on a sur­face that was al­ready very slip­pery due to the freshly laid as­phalt. All in all, the con­di­tions at the high al­ti­tude Mex­i­can venue gave the teams a bit of headache.

On Sun­day af­ter­noon all 134,000 spec­ta­tors

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