F1: Six memorable moments from the 60 years of the Mexican Grand Prix

In the past six decades, the Mexican Grand Prix has produced some of the most exciting moments in the history of Formula 1. Whether they have been world championship showdowns, classic overtaking moves or controversial clashes, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez has consistently thrilled fans across 60 years of epic racing.

The first-ever F1 race was a non-championship event that took place in November 1962, that led to Mexico City getting official championship status from 1963 onwards. The Mexican Grand Prix took a break of 16 years until it returned to the schedule in 1986 for a further seven events.

With a significant redevelopment of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, the Mexico City Grand Prix is today one of the most popular races on the calendar having returned full-time in 2015. This year’s race in October will mark 60 years of the first Formula 1 race to be held at the famous circuit. Prior to this historic occasion, here are some classic memories of the past six decades…

1. Title decided on the last lap (1964)

There have only been a handful of occasions when the Formula 1 world championship has been decided on the very last lap of the season. And one of the first was at the Mexican Grand Prix in 1964.

Three drivers arrived in Mexico with a chance of winning the title. As the showdown began, Graham Hill’s chances faded when the elastic on his goggles broke and then John Surtees suffered a misfire — so race leader Jim Clark had his best chance to take the crown.

Hill moved into P3 — the position he needed to be champion. But behind the British driver the Ferrari of Lorenzo Bandini was putting pressure on the BRM. On lap 31 he dived down the inside at the hairpin to try and snatch third and the pair made contact. Hill was able to continue after his spin, but resumed with damaged exhausts.

With Surtees now fourth it wasn’t enough to take the title if Clark was to win the race. It looked as if the title was the Scotsman’s… but with seven laps to go his Lotus began to leak oil. On the final lap his engine seized and Clark was out. Gurney inherited the win and on the final lap, Bandini (who had earlier passed Surtees) surrendered second place to his team-mate to ensure Surtees became the first motorbike champion to win on four wheels as well as two.

1964_John Surtees in Mexico
Mexico 1964_(L-R) Dan Gurney and John Surtees. Credit.MotorsportImages

1964_John Surtees in Mexico Credit.MotorsportImage


2. Race returns to offer a shock win (1986)

The Italian clothing store Benetton had taken over the ownership of the small Toleman team, but no one was expecting them to take a win anytime soon. When the Mexican Grand Prix returned to the calendar in 1986, many of the teams were caught out by the hot temperatures and bumpy track surface.

Nigel Mansell could have won the 1986 championship at this race, but he stalled at the start to scupper his chances. With one of the front-runners out of the way, the Benetton team — led by Austrian Gerhard Berger — believed they could go the distance on their Pirelli tires. Meanwhile the other teams were suffering with blisters on their Goodyears.

The gamble paid off and by not pitting for tires, Berger found himself in a surprise lead and scored his, Benetton’s and Pirelli’s first-ever Formula 1 victories…

1986_Gerhard Berger at Mexico Credit.MotorsportImages
1986_Gerhard Berger Podium at Mexico Credit.MotorsportImages


3. Brilliant overtaking move in the final stages (1990)

The old final, banked Peraltada was one of the most notorious corners in Formula 1. In the past incidents at the high-speed turn led to races being red-flagged and even the great Ayrton Senna flipped his McLaren at the corner in practice for the 1991 race.

1991 Ayrton Senna Mexico City Flip

But as one of the bravest Grand Prix drivers of his time, Nigel Mansell wasn’t going to be deterred by the daunting right-hander. In the 1990 edition of the Mexican Grand Prix, the slow-starting Ferraris of Mansell and Alain Prost were starting to make progress through the field.

After qualifying a lowly 13th, Prost had passed Senna for the lead nine laps from the end of the race. Senna then slowed with a puncture and McLaren team-mate Berger inherited second. But Mansell in his Ferrari was on a charge. On the penultimate lap he feigned a move and flew around the outside of the McLaren to steal second place into the fearsome Peraltada. It was one of the bravest overtaking moves in F1 history and Mansell achieved legendary status to give Ferrari a 1-2 finish. Today the part of the corner that remains has been named in his honor.

1990_Mansell at Mexico City

4. Michael Schumacher scores his first-ever F1 podium (1992)

Michael Schumacher broke all the records on his way to becoming a legend of Formula 1 and a seven-time world champion. Among his great statistics are 155 podium places and his very first came exactly 30 years ago when he took third place in his Benetton at the 1992 Mexican Grand Prix.

This was the year that Williams dominated F1 and the cars of Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese finished 1-2 in qualifying and in the race, with Mansell ahead of the Italian.

Championship rival Ayrton Senna had a difficult time, crashing his McLaren at the Esses on Friday and suffering bruises to his legs. Come race day, Senna retired on lap 12 with transmission failure so Michael Schumacher inherited third to take his historic first of 155 podiums. Another future world champion was also in the points as Mika Häkkinen finished sixth in his Lotus.

1992_Michael Schumacher’s first-ever podium Mexico City. Credit.MotorsportImages


5. Confusion over who had finished third (2016)

Lewis Hamilton won the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix to close the championship points gap to his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who finished eight seconds behind him. But the question was who had finished third? As the drivers went to the cool down room the Mercedes duo were joined by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen — the man who had taken the flag in third place.

But he was informed he had been given a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. He was asked by the FIA to leave the proceedings. Outside Ferrari was ushering Sebastian Vettel towards the podium. He had to barge through the crowds to join in the celebrations. But after the podium presentations were made he too was given a time penalty and fell to fifth in the classification, promoting Daniel Ricciardo to third…

2016_Confusion over who had finished third in Mexico


6. Home hero is first Mexican to score a podium in home race (2021)

In total six Mexican drivers have competed in Formula 1 since the beginning of the world championship in 1950. The most famous were the Rodriguez brothers, but sadly, younger brother Ricardo suffered a fatal crash in practice for the first Mexican Grand Prix in 1962.

Pedro came very close to scoring a podium four years later, but was forced to retire his Lotus on lap 49 of 65 with a broken differential. Moises Solana, Hector Rebaque and Esteban Gutiérrez all raced in F1 across Mexico City’s three different eras but the first driver to score a podium at their home race in Mexico came last year.

After securing a drive with Red Bull, Sergio Perez led six laps of the 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix before eventually finishing third behind race winner Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. The crowd were ecstatic with his achievement, so just imagine the response of the fans if he goes onto win this year…

2021_SergioPerez Mexico Podium. Credit.MotorsportImages


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