Nico Rosberg has revealed Mercedes is using a Monaco-specification rear-wing on its car but is still hitting Monza-plus speeds around the altitude-affected Mexican Grand Prix Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez venue.
With its 1.2km home straight, coupled to a tight and twisty infield, the revamped Mexico City circuit has presented a challenge for the drivers on the first day of action, particularly with the new surface offering up limited grip.
With rain arriving in the final minutes of FP2, it was Rosberg that would have the honour of topping the timesheets, doing so by hitting a maximum speed in excess of 360km/h – higher than the top speed reached during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
However, while the altitude of 2,200m would have the effect of allowing the team to run a Monaco-inspired rear wing due to a minimal resistance, the thin air would consequently create issues for the brakes, as Rosberg found out to his cost in FP1 when an off resulted in them catching alight.
“It is a challenge, we are really on the edge here on the brakes,” he said. “If you cool the brakes more, you lose performance because you need to open up the car and you lose downforce, so you go slower. You always want to be on the edge and here specifically is quite difficult because we are quite high up – it is like a ski station in Europe!
“The air is very thin so it doesn't flow very well through the car and down the straights there is no resistance. We had the Monaco rear wing on the car with full downforce but we are doing Monza speeds, so it is quite impressive.”
Reflecting on the circuit itself, Rosberg is enjoying the challenge, comparing the infield especially to a go-kart track.
“It's great to learn a new track in a new country, they've done a good job. It's good to drive, quite unique – it reminds me of my youth, it's like a go-kart track with slow corners. It's been a good day for me today, so it's been a good start.”