After hiatuses between 1971-1985 and 1993-2014, the Mexican Grand Prix has had to be a host capable of producing quality F1 races rather than quantity. Ahead of Round 19, Planet F1 takes a trip down memory lane.
The inaugural Mexican Grand Prix in the F1 era was all about two-time world champion Jim Clark. The Brit nailed down pole position, set the fastest lap and led every lap before passing the checkered flag to complete a phenomenal ‘Grand Slam’ in what is the longest Mexican Grand Prix to date at two hours, nine minutes and 52.1 seconds.
He beat second-placed Jack Brabham by just over one minute and 41 seconds and almost lapped the entire field. In his F1 career, Clark would eventually notch up a total of five pole positions, four fastest laps and three victories at the venue.
The final round of the 1968 season saw Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Denny Hulme all head into the race with a chance of being crowned world champion. No other Mexican Grand Prix would have more changes for the lead, with Hill, Stewart and also Jo Siffert switching top spot on five occasions before the former stormed to victory and secured his second title.
Pedro Rodriguez, Mexico’s only F1 race winner, finished fourth and to this very day remains the best finish by a Mexican on home soil.
After qualifying fourth on the grid, Gerhard Berger provided a twist in the title tale with a surprise maiden victory in a race that saw second-placed Alain Prost close the gap to Nigel Mansell at the top of the world championship standings. Not only was this Berger’s first victory, but he also gave Benetton their inaugural win on an impressive zero-stop strategy.
Alain Prost may have won to become only the second driver after Jim Clark to record multiple victories in Mexico, but this race is best remembered for Nigel Mansell’s lion-hearted move on Gerhard Berger to grab second place and a Ferrari one-two on the penultimate lap.
The dangerous last corner in Mexico City has claimed lives, but Mansell, at 190mph on a uneven track surface, showed nerves of steel to pass round the outside of Berger in what has become one of the most iconic overtakes in F1 history. So much so, the last corner of the newly-refurbished circuit is now named after him.
It was perhaps appropriate, then, that Mansell would leave the last mark on the Mexican Grand Prix before the race disappeared off the F1 calendar for 23 years. Mansell dominated from start to finish on his way to landing the world championship title, with this race win the second of five consecutive successes at the start of the 1992 season.
Team-mate Riccardo Patrese was second, but even more notable was the appearance of a certain Michael Schumacher who took to the podium for the first time in his illustrious career. The rest, as they say, is history.