Formula 1 continues with its Americas triple-header, heading south of the border from Texas for the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix just a week after an entertaining weekend at the Circuit of the Americas – and three drivers are celebrating with special helmets.
Qualifying for the 2022 Mexico City GP provided an intriguing set-up with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton right behind Max Verstappen, the Mercedes themselves separated by just 0.005 seconds.
However, that failed to translate into an equally close race, as Mercedes shot themselves in the foot with an ultra-conservative strategy that at least allowed Sergio Perez to secure a popular home podium.
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez hasn’t exactly been a by-word for exciting racing since returning to the calendar, but has certainly been known to throw up some surprises.
At 2,200 metres above sea level it’s nearly three-times as elevated as the next-highest track (Interlagos) which can mix up the running order, though it’s also a Verstappen favourite – he’s won there four times, more than any other circuit bar Austria.
If qualifying can replicate the Sprint Shootout seven days previously at the United States GP, where four drivers from four teams were separated by just half a second at the top of the timesheets, it should be another thrilling race.
It’s going to be one of the best FP1s of the year to watch too, with at least four F2 drivers competing in the session.
Sat second in the championship ahead of the Abu Dhabi finale, Frederik Vesti will replace George Russell at Mercedes in the week they announced starlet Andrea Kimi Antonelli is being fast-tracked to F2 for 2024.
The raw but extremely talented Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman makes his F1 debut for Haas, with Isack Hadjar an interesting choice by Red Bull to replace Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri.
Finally, after appearing in the same session in 2022, Jack Doohan has once again been called upon by Alpine and Theo Pourchaire gets his chance for Alfa Romeo.
Sergio Perez has written ‘never give up’ on the back of his design, clearly unaware that it’s mathematically impossible to overhaul Verstappen and win the championship.
It’s a second special helmet in two weeks for Nico Hulkenberg, after his stars-and-stripes themed lid for Austin.
Bottas has been a prolific one-off helmet agent in 2023 and that continues at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Tacos and tequila – what’s not to like?
With a beauty of a helmet like this on display, it’s a shame Bearman‘s not getting more than an hour on track!
Is Hadjar‘s helmet good-looking or shades of Microsoft Powerpoint preset gradient fills circa 2009?
Vesti‘s taking George Russell‘s place for FP1, and will wear a continuation of his standard helmet.