A unique opportunity
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez offers Formula E a unique opportunity. On one hand, it’s possible to use the short version of the track. On the other hand, the venue still has the necessary capacity to handle crowds of enthusiastic Mexican fans. For this reason, the electric racing series will also perform a loop of the Foro Sol baseball stadium, home to the legendary Peraltada corner – a long right-hander.
The city center circuit therefore kills two birds with one stone. First, the track has a long history, having hosted races since the 1960s. Second, the existing infrastructure can accommodate any and all fans – just like at the races in New York or at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport.
The drivers have it somewhat easier on the permanent Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez track. As Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport driver Lucas Di Grassi explains, mistakes are not immediately punished as there is more room: “The track is much wider than a narrow city circuit and also has run-off areas, which means you don’t end up crashing into the wall after the tiniest of mistakes.”
However, the city’s altitude presents a big challenge for racers. Mexico City is located a good 2,200 meters above sea level – which means the air is incredibly thin. “It is the highest track in the world with little downforce and little oxygen, and you notice that immediately with physical exertion,” adds Di Grassi. Mexico therefore provides the ultimate litmus test when it comes to drivers’ fitness.
Formula E treads a historic path
Formula E is currently in its third season, so it’s still a young championship. However, despite its youth, it has already made its way onto the tracks of the world’s renowned racing cities. In its debut season, an ePrix was held in Monaco, where drivers raced on a short version of the famous street circuit. After the Saint Dévote corner, the track doesn’t head up toward the casino, but down onto John F. Kennedy Avenue. The two tracks merge again at the portside chicane.
It is the highest track in the world with little downforce and little oxygen, and you notice that immediately with physical exertionLucas di Grassi
Formula E has also visited historic tracks in the USA. In its debut 2014/15 season, an ePrix took place on the streets of Long Beach, once again, on a shortened circuit. Formula E visited another existing city circuit in the 2016/17 season: the Circuit International Automobile Moulay el Hassan in Marrakesh. Until then, the track had only ever hosted the FIA WTCC.
Raising awareness of sustainability
Formula E’s philosophy is not just to race existing tracks, but also to visit city centers – the places most people call home. This way, electronic technology – which is undoubtedly the technology of the future – can be demonstrated to the largest possible audience. This helps to raise general awareness of renewable energy and sustainability.
Mexico is a special case in this regard, as the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is located in the middle of a densely populated metropolis – meaning it’s possible to make easy use of the existing infrastructure. The same has or will happen in Monaco, Long Beach and Marrakesh, which are all city circuits that have hosted other racing series in the past.