Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez had what he described as a very special day as he drove his VJM-08-02 competitively around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City for the first time on Friday as Formula One made its return.
it has been 23 years since the sport race in Mexico city a race which saw Nigel Mansell win for Williams in his championship winning year. Speaking following his day on track, Checo commented by saying:
It’s been a very special day from a personal point of view, but my focus remains on the work we have to do to prepare for the race. The circuit is quite challenging and, as we expected, very slippery. In the middle sector there is a lot of movement with the car and it’s very difficult to get the car to stay on the right line. The altitude affects the levels of downforce pretty dramatically, so you end up being fairly light no matter what levels you are running. The conditions are very tricky but they’re the same for everyone, so we will need to adapt. I want to give all the Mexican fans who come to the track this week something to celebrate on Sunday: it was great to see so many of them today and I am feeling optimistic that I will be able to deliver a good result for them.
Checo ended the opening session in ninth place while FP2 he finished in 15th place. Nico Hulkenberg in the second Force India finished the opening session in 16th place while in the second session the German was 11th fastest. Over the course of the day the German completed 51 laps.
Speaking following the day on track, Hulkenberg commented by saying:
The circuit is definitely a big challenge, but it’s good fun to drive. It’s very technical and quite tricky to get it right. Sectors one and two, after the straight, are quite twisty and low-speed: the grip levels are very low, due to the new tarmac, and it’s very easy to make a mistake. I am happy about the direction we are taking: there is still a lot to be done to find some more performance, but we are at a good starting point and I am sure that looking through the data will help us progress. We were able to complete a lot of laps, using both tyre compounds, and I think we have a pretty good understanding of where we are ahead of qualifying tomorrow.
It is not just a big occasion for ‘Checo’ Perez this weekend but it is also a big weekend for the Sahara Force India Formula One Team who have an awful lot of Mexican sponsors and also launched their car in Mexico City in January.
Speaking about the opening day of track action, Dr Vijay Mallya commented by saying:
I have to take my hat off to the organisers of the race for doing such a fantastic job with the circuit. The facilities are brilliant and everything was ready for us from the moment we arrived. I love Mexico – it has many things in common with India, such as the passion and friendliness of people and their love of spices. Racing at this altitude brings a whole set of challenges, in particular with finding the grip, but they’re the same conditions for everyone and it will be up to us to find the solutions we require. The track was very slippery at the start of the day and the damp conditions didn’t help, so FP1 didn’t really give us ideal conditions. In FP2, we adapted our programme to account for the risk of rain and collected all the data we needed at the start of the session. We expect the grid to be very tight but we look in good shape, so it’s important that we maximise our qualifying performance tomorrow.