An instant classic qualifying session at the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix had nearly everything – controversy, stunning eliminations and a shock pole position – the only thing missing was some rain to spice things up even further.
After looking nowhere near the front all weekend, Ferrari set the record straight with their opening Q3 runs to take first and second, with the rest of the field unable to improve at the death and deny pole position for Charles Leclerc.
To complicate it even more, five drivers were under investigation after a madcap Q1 session including Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell – all serious contenders whenever the stormclouds gather.
And all that managed to overshadow one of the biggest Q1 eliminations of the year in the form of Lando Norris after McLaren initially sent him out on medium tyres and an error forced him to abandon his final run, condemning him to 19th place.
He’s certainly a driver that could do with weather playing a part in the grand prix, Norris is electric in the rain and will need all the help he can get as he attempts to fight his way back into the points.
There were two surprise showers in FP2 but there’s never been a wet race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez since it returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 2015 – is that set to change?
Mexico City weather
The rain around FP2 was unexpected, but it’d be even more shocking if there’s a wet Mexico City GP.
There’s less than a 5% chance of rain for lights out at 14:00 local time, with humidity plummeting from 89% early in the day to just 35% when cars will be on track.
Altitude is always the big talking point in Mexico City – at 2,200 metres above sea level it’s the highest track on the F1 calendar by some distance (Interlagos is next at 800m) which will inevitably catch some teams out.
The thin air means cooling issues are always a problem for engineers, though temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius are far from extreme and shouldn’t exacerbate any problems too far.
Williams‘ Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson explained that managing the car cooling can be more important than nailing aerodynamic setups in Mexico City, and teams had just four days from leaving Austin to starting FP1 here.
Aside from that, things could get quite blustery with wind gusts reaching up to 15 mph, but that’s still nothing compared to what drivers dealt with in Qatar.