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6H Mexico: Pre-Race Paddock Notes

News and notes ahead of the WEC's second race in Mexico City

Estre on the new GTE lights

This weekend, the FIA WEC GTE teams are using a new lights system in their car’s cockpits, which flashes blue with the word ‘LMP’ when prototypes are behind them, to help drivers to tell the difference between the GTE and LMP traffic.

Porsche GT team driver Kevin Estre spoke to DSC about the new lights ahead of the race:

“I didn’t hear anything about it until this weekend,” he said when asked if the drivers had been asking for a change prior to this weekend. “I don’t know if drivers asked or if the organisation put it in place alone. The more systems you have in the cockpit though, the more the organisation needs to ensure it gets right.

“The race will be real a test, a test of whether it’s reliable. If it’s not then it’s not good. If you get the blue light and an LMP is coming, and it works all the time, then it’s nice, but if you get blue lights then it’s not nice.

“For us Toyota to a Porsche is tough to recognise,” he continued, “not that it makes any difference, we don’t block Toyota, between LMP2 and LMP1, you have to look more often in the mirrors to tell because of the new LMP2 speeds.

“But you get used to it, the speed of the cars and how often you need to look in the mirror. Here between Turns 1-3 the prototypes won’t be much quicker than us for example, so you don’t need to look as much. Then through the Esses you need to check all the time.

“It’s all about experience.”

The effects of the altitude

As always the 2280m above sea level (7500 ft) plays a notable part in the performance of the cars on track.

With the oxygen content of the air well down, power for almost all of the cars is some 30% down, the only exceptions to the rule being the Porsche and Toyota Hybrids, their electrical drive systems not suffering the power drop off (which sees their punch out of corners when in close proximity to other cars looking even more spectacular than usual.

On the other side of the performance coin though, the thinner air means that the cars generate significantly less drag (c.25%) and straight line speeds across the board are thus fairly close to a circuit at sea level, though drivers report that the power delivery of the cars feels ‘lazy’.

The final effect of the thinner air is that cooling of systems on the cars can be an issue, the car needing more volume of air to achieve the same cooling effect. That means that braking and alternator systems need careful monitoring, plus the hybrid and intercooler systems of the cars thus equipped.

Support races for CoTA

For the next round of the FIA WEC, at Circuit of The Americas, the support races have been confirmed For the weekend the World Series Formula V8 3.5 will race with the WEC for the Penultimate time this year, with Ferrari Challenge USA and F4 USA also on the bill.

Rebellion penalised

David Heinemeier Hansson was caught speeding in the pit lane during yesterday’s Qualifying session by 1.8km, which has resulted in the #13 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA’s lap time being deleted, demoting the team to the very back of the grid for today’s race.

Engine change for 51

The AF Corse Ferrari crew have been hard at work overnight, changing the engine of the #51 Ferrari 488, which qualified seventh in GTE Pro yesterday.

It appears that there will be no grid penalty for the change, the FIA WEC starting order showing the car still 19th overall on the grid.

Weather forecast

Despite the thunderstorms and heavy rain in the lead up to this weekend, rain during the on-track action has been few and far between. Today’s forecast though, is poor, with thunderstorms and heavy rain predicted throughout the race, but still humid.

Fittipaldi present

Former Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi has been on hand this weekend in support of his grandson Pietro. He’s been competing in World Series Formula V8 3.5 with Lotus, and won both races this weekend.

Also in the V8 3.5 series are SMP Racing drivers Matevos Issakyan and Egor Orudzhev, fresh from their ELMS overall win at Paul Ricard last weekend with the team.

How to watch

This weekend’s FIA WEC 6 Hours of Mexico is set to be streamed live time on the FIA WEC official app with commentary from DSC’s editor Graham Goodwin and Martin Haven (it starts at midday local time), you can also listen to the race live for free over on radiolemans.com.