It was hardly Red Bull-funded Austria slick, but who cares? It was good that F1 rediscovered a link to its past last weekend as it did last year in Austria, venturing back to Mexico City after a 23-year absence. When 150,000 people turn out for a showcar run in the city four months before the event as was the case when Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr. turned up in July, you knew the new addition to the 2015 calendar was going to be a good one. It’s great when F1 goes to new places where people really care like Austria, Mexico and, er, Azerbaijan, right?
Kudos too to Sergio Perez as the sport’s unofficial ambassador and tour guide for the weekend. Perez has become infinitely better to deal with as he’s become more humble – he was arrogantly insufferable the first time I did a proper interview with him, the week after he’d been named as a McLaren driver while still at Sauber back in 2013 – but since heading back to the midfield teams with his tail between his legs, he’s become a more rounded driver. For all of Max Verstappen’s swashbuckling overtaking and Pastor Maldonado’s sheer unpredictability (is it just me, or do others sit up taller in their seats and bite their bottom lip any time Maldonado and, in this market, Ricciardo ever have to dispute the same piece of tarmac?), Perez’s approach – not caning his tyres, sitting patiently and making the best of what he has when he’s on form – is a nice counterpoint. He’s not a driver likely to beat himself these days, which is good for a podium every 15-20 races or so, and it’s surprising he’s beaten Nico Hulkenberg on Sundays this year given his one-lap deficiency in pace to the German on Saturdays. To be in with a sniff of the Red Bull drivers in the standings hints at a job well done, as well as a sign of how far the Bulls have fallen this season.
A review of the antepenultimate (sorry, had to do it) round of the season in Mexico takes pride of place in Episode 125 of ‘The Inside Line’ this week. Check it out.