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Ready to Race: Andy Stevenson on the Mexican GP

Ahead of the final triple-header of the 2021 F1 season, Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team's Sporting Director, Andy Stevenson, gives his insight into this weekend's Mexican Grand Prix.

Andy Stevenson

From Team Silverstone's early days in Formula One, through to how the team will manage the workload of three back-to-back races, this is Andy's insight into a unique Grand Prix.

I always look forward to Mexico City, mainly because of the enthusiasm of the home crowd. In the modern incarnation of the Grand Prix, Team Silverstone raced there with Sergio Pérez from 2015 to 2019, but regardless of nationalities, you always receive a great welcome.

My first trip, and the first for the team, was as Jordan in 1991. We had just finished fourth and fifth in Canada the race before with Andrea de Cesaris and Bertrand Gachot, scoring our first points in our maiden season, and the team was on a high. 

Up until a few laps before the flag in Mexico, I think we were running fourth and fifth again. Then Gachot ran wide at the last corner and didn't finish the race, while de Cesaris stopped short with a fuel issue and had to push his car over the line.

From memory, we were called to the stewards and [ex-McLaren CEO] Ron Dennis persuaded them not to penalise us, so we kept the points for a hard-fought and well-deserved fourth place.

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2021 Mexican Grand Prix
2021 Mexican Grand Prix

We went back in 1992 which was not so successful, with both cars failing to finish the race, and then there was no race until 2015. That year, we launched our car in Mexico City, so we had already seen how popular Sergio and the team were going to be. When we arrived for the race, the reception was exceptional. It's up there as one of the best of the year when it comes to atmosphere.

In terms of the special challenges of the track, the high altitude is the standout. It makes it very difficult for the team to operate physically and mentally.

We ask everybody to bear that in mind and look out for each other. It's quite easy to get sick from the altitude without knowing. Our doctor and head of human performance are always briefing the team to make sure they stay hydrated.

We train at every race to keep the crew fit and ready for pitstop practice and the race, but we don't train as hard in Mexico. We will back off and do a much lower intensity, so everyone's got that little bit more energy in reserve.

As for the car, you run higher downforce because the air is so thin, which does change the efficiency of your car. 

Altitude also creates challenges with the power units, but it's the same for everybody: the delta is the same, and no team really gains an advantage.

Track-wise, the straight down to Turn One is great for the start of the race and there are other overtaking opportunities, especially at the slow corner into the stadium, which is always exciting. Even from the pitlane, we can hear the roar of the crowd when the drivers race wheel-to-wheel through the stadium. Having the podium ceremony there instead of the pitlane is unique and highlights the special atmosphere.

Most of the guys and girls will be on the road for 22 days. It's a huge ask and requires a huge amount of commitment, which they deserve to be recognised for.
Andy Stevenson
Sporting Director of Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team

The team's goal is always the same: we'll aim to optimise the car and then work out the best strategy to score points. Austin was obviously disappointing, but it did show that we are getting closer to our competitors, and Lance was also very unfortunate at the start of the race. 

We've now finished developing this car and we are understanding it better. We have probably gained a bit of ground on our competitors in the last event. Hopefully, we can carry that into Mexico.

This triple-header is going to be one of the most gruelling runs of races this year. We have got three Grands Prix on the bounce. There's Mexico and its altitude. Then there's Brazil, which can often be very hot and challenging. Finally, we have a brand-new event in Qatar, where conditions are warmer than we're used to.

Most of the guys and girls will be on the road for 22 days. It's a huge ask and requires a huge amount of commitment, which they deserve to be recognised for. 

As a team, we do recognise and appreciate it. We'll try to make things as comfortable and seamless as we can, but it is going to take a huge effort. We're ready to meet the challenge.

Thanks to Andy for making his mark on the team at track: #IAMSTORIES

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