know the next race is in Surfers Paradise, but being a Mexican I'm partial to this
season's closing race, Mexico City's Grand Prix Telmex/Tecate presented by
Banamex. Roberto Gonzalez was good enough to share with us his views of this track
that has seen both Formula 1 and Champ Car races.
This is a track with a very high technical level and it has a lot of history. It
was created for Formula 1, so it resembles the old F1 European tracks. It's very
different from what we usually run. I don't think any other track on the Champ Car
circuit resembles this one, except perhaps Elkhart Lake just a little bit. They
are both wide tracks, but that's the only thing they have in common.
start with a very particular straight. It's a very long straight that lets you get
into 7th gear, and then you have to step down to 2nd gear to enter the first curve
where you have to brake very hard.
The second curve is 90 degrees. This is a great point to pass, but you have to be
very careful because it doesn't have very much grip. In my opinion this is the
best part of the track to try to make a pass, either on the start or while
battling with someone.
The next curve is to the left. It's kind of a U-turn. There is not a lot of grip,
so acceleration is the key to this curve. You have to accelerate as soon as
possible because of the straight that follows. This is also a great passing point.
Then you get to a curve that goes to the left. You enter this turn at a high
speed. When you have just entered this curve you have to take down a couple of
gears, then the curve takes you to the right. You have to brake as little as
possible, trying not to slow down the car too much. Once you have entered this
curve you hit the brakes very hard while going down two more gears. You need to
have the car in the exact position because, if not, it's very possible you will
need to brake more than you need.
In the next curve the most important part is the braking. You are running on a
very short straight. Before entering the curve you have to brake very late and as
little as possible. If you brake too much you'll get understeer.
Just as you get out of this curve, you'll enter the next curve. It goes to the
left. The car makes a very high jump in this curve. You tend to lose the back part
of the car. The idea here is to start the curve in 2nd gear and start accelerating
as soon as possible.
The next curve is to the right and is very wide. At first glance it looks like it
has different lines, but in reality there is only one. You have to enter this
curve very early and get to the inside part of the track. You need the grip of the
inside part, and you need to play with the accelerator. If you don't enter
correctly, your car goes to the outside part and you lose a lot of time.
Then you get to a straight and then to the different esses. The first one is to
the left. It has only one line, and you can't pass on this one. You need to be
very focused on the rest of the esses. A mistake on this one and you will pay for
it in the rest of the esses. The trick here is to accelerate more and more while
going through the esses.
The second S is not a very big challenge.
In the third S, you get up one gear just entering this part. You tend to lose grip
a little bit on the front part of the car. But then the car jumps a little bit and
you lose the back part of the car. The trick here is to try to go as fast as you
can. You push the accelerator very hard. Last year, I could do it only one time,
but it's fundamental to do it on a consistent basis.
In the next curve, the fourth S is to the right. Here you try to go flat, and you
fight a little bit with your brakes.
The fifth and last S is a very fast curve. It's where Michael Andretti crashed the
first year Champ Car ran here. It's very easy to lose the car there.
Then you enter the baseball stadium. You are running in 7th gear and then you have
to brake very hard. It's very easy to make a mistake or to block the tires.
Then you get to the next curve where the track material changes to concrete. The
car has less grip on this material. The braking is the most important part of this
curve. Last year I was losing my brakes and this was the part where I suffered the
The next curve is a 90 degree curve. It's to the right and not a big challenge.
But then the next part of the track is very exciting. Traction and grip play a
very important part here. You go through the stadium stands. It's just
overwhelming to go through the stands filled with 60,000 spectators to your left
Then you get to the last curve which is the slowest curve of the track. But then
you get to the main straight, and you're ready to do it again and again.
With this track you need to decide with your crew what is the most important part
of the track. Then you work with the car to excel in that part, even if it means
not performing great in other parts.
So there you have it, a lap with Roberto Gonzalez, driver of PKV Racing.
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