F1 2022 Mexico Grand Prix, Sergio Perez, George Russell, Charles Leclerc, cost cap, fine, punishment, testing

Only a few racing fans have the privilege of cheering on a local driver at their home Grand Prix, and Mexican fans crammed into the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez didn’t waste a second of their luck in Friday practice.

Not only did Sergio Perez receive cheers every time he walked to the famous Foro Sol, the section of the stadium built from a disused baseball grandstand, but the crowd was thrilled even when they caught a glimpse of their man on the big screens.

Even Perez’s face in the F1 opening titles shown before each session received the usual applause.

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So it was the least Perez could do but be competitive, albeit based on a rather limited Friday race, generating enough hope that he could at least make the podium, if not more.

But that’s just the start and Friday’s data was more limited than usual. Pirelli’s check on FP2 for another tire test meant the usual race sims were largely lacking, with those stuck around the disruptions in FP1 unlikely to be as representative as the teams tinker with the cars ahead of FP3.

But what we can say is that Ferrari and Red Bull Racing seem to be closely linked at this stage, and Mercedes is probably also in on it.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc dominated FP1 in pure pace, separated by just 0.046 seconds. It was more than what separated Perez from Max Verstappen – the Red Bull Racing team-mates set identical times just 0.12 seconds behind the leading Ferrari.

They were all tightly bonded in the brief simulation race stints they also undertook.

Lewis Hamilton saw his fast lap on softs disrupted by a red flag, but his second attempt on worn tires resulted in a lap just 0.142 seconds off the pace. He failed to string together stints, however, so his theoretical race pace is unclear.

But George Russell, who skipped FP1 to give Nyck de Vries his mandatory run, topped FP2 with a lap that was almost 0.8 seconds quicker than Sainz’s best effort in the first hour. That’s roughly in line with historic levels of track evolution on what is still a dusty, slippery circuit at the start of the weekend, being a converted public road, and it gave the Briton the confidence that Mercedes was in the mix.

“I’d like to think it’s definitely [a] podium [that’s] possible at least,” he said, according to the F1 website. “It’s probably one of our best Fridays of the year, if not our best.”

It’s still early though. Final practice will give us a much clearer picture of what to expect for qualifying and the always tricky race.


The low air density of Mexico City, which is about 2.2 kilometers above sea level, causes all sorts of problems for Formula 1 cars, which are not designed to perform better in a finer atmosphere.

The lack of downforce produced by the cars, despite using what would normally be their maximum downforce bodywork, was evident in the slides and slides experienced by all drivers as they struggled for pulling.

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

This generation of cars is prone to understeer at low speeds, and the low air density means almost every corner on this circuit could be classified as slow given the lack of air rushing through the aerodynamic components. , regardless of how fast the car is actually moving. . Understeer is therefore an important problem to be solved via the configuration in FP3.

But it’s also taxing on the brakes and drive units given the 22 per cent reduction in cooling, and you may have noticed most cars running with maximum cooling louvers to cope with the conditions.

The turbocharger is also under higher stress here as it attempts to maintain pressure inside the internal combustion engine – again, without the benefit of regular cooling.

Both Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson had brake problems during FP1, with Lawson’s brakes catching fire spectacularly after coming to a stop on the track with a hydraulic failure towards the end of the session.

Pietro Fittipaldi and Jack Doohan later retired with engine problems in the respective cars of Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon.

Magnussen will serve a five-place penalty for an engine component change, while Ocon has got away without penalty so far by switching to the power unit he used last weekend.

Cooling management is always a major part of getting through the Mexico City weekend, and whoever can handle it best could end up with an advantage in the race.


Coming out of FP2 is normally a blow for a race weekend given that this is when FP1 configuration changes are validated and race simulations are undertaken. This is when we have the clearest sense of competitive order.

But given that Pirelli commandeered the entire session – and extended it by 30 minutes – for a tire test in 2023, Charles Leclerc’s damaging smash won’t be paid beyond long hours by his mechanics to fix the car overnight.

As was the case last Friday in Austin, the Pirelli-focused tire test was largely useless for the teams for the rest of the weekend. Changes of set-up are prohibited and each driver has his driving plan defined by the tire manufacturer.

He puts more emphasis on FP1 and much more on FP3, which Leclerc will probably have no trouble getting into.

The only concern for the Monegasque is that the accident may have been heavy enough to cause him gearbox or engine problems, although Ferrari have said they do not expect any penalties for the repairs – a good thing considering the competitiveness of the leading pack. start of the weekend.

Hamilton does not plan to retire | 01:17


Off-track was unsurprisingly dominated by the announcement before testing that Red Bull Racing had agreed to serve a penalty for exceeding the budget cap last season.

According to the rules, part of accepting a deal also means admitting guilt – a surely punitive experience after Horner has spent the past month accusing rivals or defaming him and the team even after the FIA ​​discovered that RBR had exceeded the cap three weeks ago.

The team was found to have “inaccurately excluded and/or adjusted costs totaling £5,607,000” across 13 different accounting items.

This meant the team had exceeded the cap by £1,864,000, or around AU$3,376,000, or 1.6% of the total cap.

Red Bull Racing accepted a penalty consisting of a fine of almost AUD 11 million and a 10% reduction in development time.

For reference, F1 has a sliding scale of development allocation based on championship position. The championship-winning team spends the least time in the wind tunnel or uses computer simulation software, while the lowest-ranked team gets the most.

The interval between each team is about 7%.

A 10% cut to Red Bull Racing’s allocation means that interval more than doubles.

Based on the current championship standings, RBR will get 19% less development time than Ferrari and 27% less than Mercedes.

Williams, in last place, will get more than 82% of Red Bull Racing’s time in the wind tunnel, compared to 64%.

It also means that even if Red Bull Racing were to fall to second place in the championship, they would still have less development time than any team at the top of the standings.

Red Bull accepts cost cap breach agreement | 03:07

The reduction lasts for 12 months from October 26, meaning it will affect the development of next year’s car and the team’s 2024 design.

Christian Horner described it as “draconian” for these reasons, and although some teams would have preferred something more severe – future team cost cap allocations were not reduced, for example – it does no doubt the penalty will be stinging. This will have a big impact on how the team does business over the next 12 months.

It is also important that the penalty is sufficient to prevent other teams from betting on an infringement in exchange for a penalty.

Toto Wolff, his Mercedes team most affected by the breach given the proximity of last year’s title fight, felt the punishment itself was lenient but sufficient given the damage to the reputation of the team. ‘crew.

“I think what you see is that beyond the sporting sanction and the financial fine, there is also reputational damage, and in a world of transparency and good governance, that no longer the case,” he told Sky Sports.

Most important, however, was that the FIA ​​stood firm in ensuring the team carried a penalty.

“They didn’t bat an eyelid,” Wolff said. “They just went through the process…I think they’ve been absolutely good at assessing [it]. I know how rigorous they have been with us throughout the year.

“It was a difficult process, and when I see 13 positions that were wrong, with us it was not the case.

“It’s just good to see that there is a penalty, whether we think it is too low or too high.”

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