It is possible to call the Autódromo Hermano Rodríguez one of the most unique and best loved circuits on the F1 calendar! With it’s infamous racing history, environment and it’s circuit cutting straight through the middle of the amphitheatre-like baseball stadium built on the track. Originally known as Magdalena Hixhuca, it was renamed to Autódromo Hermano Rodríguez in 1971 after the tragic deaths of the beloved racing Rodríguez brothers, the circuit is 4.304 km / 2674 m long and hosted its first race in 1962 with an immense capacity of enthusiastic racing fans witnessing the first ever race on the track.
Despite the excitement of the first Formula 1 race taking place in 1962 on the circuit, the celebrations were overshadowed with the death of racing legend Ricado Rodríguez who died during the practice races for the 1962 Mexican Grand Prix. One of the most notable features of the Autódromo Hermano Rodríguez circuit was the Peraltada corner which unfortunately contributed to Ricado Rodríguez’s death along with the failure of his car’s suspension. When Pedro Rodríguez died 9 years later during the summer of 1971, it only felt right to rename their home country’s racing circuit after the two racing brothers.
It is surprising to find out that the circuit was designed as part of a thesis by student Óscar Fernandez in 1953, as a result a very interesting and unique circuit was created. One of the most notable features is that the circuit is built at an elevation of 2,238 m / 7342 ft making the air thin and the difficulty harder. However, one benefit was the reduction of aerodynamic drag making the straights that much faster when needed most.
The infamous Peraltada, also known as the ‘Peril of the Peraltada’, can be called the most iconic corner of the entire circuit for its long, banked, high speed turn as well as it’s placement right up against a public highway. Additionally, it also has been the cause of many crashes and accidents as well as the death of Ricado Rodríguez in 1962. In more recent years, before the corner was removed from the circuit, well loved F1 driver Aryton Senna tackled the corner in 1991 when battling during the free practices. Unfortunately this led to Senna lurching off-line through the gravel, eventually hitting the tyre wall, although Aryton was unhurt, many spectators and staff heard his screams after the crash causing much concern for the driver. However, it was later confirmed that it was because a piece of gravel had lodged itself in Senna’s ear and other than that, the driver came out of the crash relatively unscathed.
After many years off the Formula One calendar, the Mexico Grand Prix returned in 2015 with a modernised, rebuilt and reprofiled by none other than architect legend Hermann Tilke. Part of the modernisation included the removal of the Peraltada corner, replacing it with a series of sharp turns, encouraging drivers to be slower rather than the controversially dangerous long banked turn that once was turn 17. Additionally, and what makes the Autódromo Hermano Rodríguez circuit stand out of many of the other tracks on the F1 calendar is the baseball stadium set on turn 14 in front of the notorious Peraltada corner. With turns 12-16 threading through the middle of the amphitheatre-like stands which let the spectators come unbelievably close to the cars as they race at high speeds. This spectacular addition to the circuit makes it one of the first ever in-field stadium complex in Formula One racing history.
Currently with a capacity of over 40,000 and the inclusion of the baseball stadium which also hosts the podium ceremony, Autódromo Hermano Rodríguez is one of the most unique, exciting and thrilling circuits of the entire Grand Prix and one which is decidedly a fan favourite for many.