Mexico City: Team Switzerland preview

Fiesta Mexicana in the World Cup of Motorsport Swiss A1GP team to defend its leading position in the Aztecs'country The Swiss national motorsport team will be starting into the final part of the A1GP series season as the points leader. Before...

Fiesta Mexicana in the World Cup of Motorsport

Swiss A1GP team to defend its leading position in the Aztecs'country

The Swiss national motorsport team will be starting into the final part of the A1GP series season as the points leader. Before the two challenging races in Mexico City, the team has a ten points' lead over France and a 20 points' lead over New Zealand. When on Sunday everything will be running equally well as in South Africa three weeks ago with a third place finish in the sprint race and a fine victory in the feature race, the road to the title doesn't seem endless anymore.

The results of the Swiss team from the 14 races held so far is quite good: Neel Jani has scored three victories, eight podium finishes and 12 top ten classifications and set the fastest race lap on four occasions, scoring an additional championship point each time. With one exception, these are the best results achieved by any team so far (only New Zealand has scored 13 top ten classifications). There are three events left with two races each: Mexico City, Shanghai and Brands Hatch.

In Mexico, Rahel Frey will be in as the rookie driver of the Swiss team. It is her duty to prepare the car for Neel Jani in the first practice session on Friday, which means doing the inital running for the tyres and gearbox and work on a basic set-up. Rahel Frey, who celebrated her 22nd birthday on February 23 and is living in Aedermannsdorf in the Solothurn region, made quite a good impression on her maiden outing as a rookie driver at Sepang in Malaysia at the end of November. The fact that one day later, Neel Jani claimed two pole positions and went on to win both races on Sunday can be considered as a good omen.

The A1GP series is racing in Mexico for the third time. In February, 2006, an event took place in Monterrey and Mexico City hosted ist first race last year. Back then, Neel Jani was sidelined due to food poisoning, so that Marcel Fassler stepped in to take his place in the Swiss team. Still, the venue isn't new for Jani. Four months ago, he raced in Champ Cars at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in the western outskirts of the city with its 20 million inhabitants. "The bumpy track puts maximum pressure on a driver", Jani recalls. "On the main straight, you almost feel the fillings falling out of your teeth. Next to very fast corners, there are also some slow turns that require a lot of concentration and very precise driving."

The fact that the polluted air sometimes makes the eyes burn isn't making things any easier. At an altitude of 2265 metres, breathing is difficult for man and machine. The altitude reduces the performance of the eight cylinder aspirated engines by some twelve percent from 550 to approx. 485 hp. The 4.421 kilometres long track also provides a challenge for the technicians. The flat-out straight with a length of 1,200 metres puts pressure on the engine, while the many bumps are a threat for the suspension and the twisty corners at the back of the track are hard on the gearbox. The infamous 180 degrees right-hand "Churubusco" hairpin leading onto the main straight, which is also called "Peredalta" because of its banked structure, has been alleviated by a preceding chicane. In the past, this corner caused numerous dramas.

Team principal Max Welti is quite cautious when asked for his goals for the weekend's races in Mexico: "We want to add to our already considerable achievements of this winter. Given the particularities of the circuit, it would be bold to expect any more victories. Here, a lot of things can happen. I would be pleased when we make it onto the podium twice and can keep our direct rivals in check."

From 1963 till 1970 and from 1986 till 1992, there have been 15 Formula 1 races in Mexico City. The circuit, which is part of the huge "Magdalena Mixhuca" sports and leisure area and is located quite close to the international airport "Benito Juarez" has been named after the Rodriguey brothers. Ricardo, the younger, died in the "Churubusco" corner in practice for the 1962 Mexican Grand Prix. Pedro died after an accident in a sportscar race in Nuremberg in 1971.

-credit: a1team-sui.ch

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Marcel Fassler , Neel Jani , Max Welti , Rahel Frey