08.12.22 NL Blog
Abu Dhabi GP: The story behind my weekend
I arrived in Mexico on Tuesday night and the work to acclimatise for a race that’s 2,200 metres above sea level – the highest altitude of the season – pretty much started straight away.
From a drivers’ perspective, having 25% less oxygen in the air isn’t too much of a problem. We’re all athletes that train hard and are built to operate in extreme conditions. But we know from experience that the thinner air will have a big effect on the performance of the cars.
This is a track where you need a lot of downforce, and we know that whenever we have to put maximum downforce on our car, we have tended to struggle this year. And that’s without the additional limitations that come with the increased altitude! Marry that with the combination of corners, the very low speed, the braking and traction requirements in Mexico, this is a track that I expect will give us a difficult weekend. But I also know there’s some hope and some targets that we can definitely shoot for.
Historically, this is a track where a lot of people can tend to suffer with reliability issues, just because the air is so thin and the cooling is also tricky to get right whether that’s for the power unit and all the components in there, or even the brakes. So, there’s a lot that everyone will need to manage and that could create some opportunities for us. From that perspective, there’s hope and something positive for us to focus on.
I’m also looking forward to the fact that I’ll drive in all the FP sessions this weekend, unlike in Austin where Logan drove my car in FP1 and then I only got back in for the FP2 tyre test which was near enough useless for quali and race prep. Having FP3 as my first real practice session in the US wasn’t ideal. I’m hoping that getting the full number of FP sessions in Mexico will be an advantage.
Finally, a lot is often said about the atmosphere in Mexico and it’s definitely something that contributes to quite a special weekend. When you go through the baseball stadium on the drivers’ parade, it’s really quite cool to experience the atmosphere and passion that the Mexican people have for the sport.
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