Q: What are your favourite memories of your time in Mexico as a Formula 1 driver?
A: “I remember having a great time! What sticks in my mind most is overtaking Gerhard Berger in the Peraltada, and how much I upset him! Winning in Mexico the year after that at the last Grand Prix was sensational. I love the vibrance of the city, the passion and energy of the people. It’s such a unique place, so different to anywhere else in the world. Overall I have extremely fond memories of racing there, the fans, the energy and the track itself were all highlights of the F1 calendar back then for me.”
Q: As the winner of the last Formula 1 Gran Premio de Mexico in 1992, what are you most looking forward to about returning to Mexico City for this year’s race?
A: “I can’t wait to see all the changes first hand. The city has evolved enormously over the past 20 years. I’m really looking forward to watching the race so many years after competing there myself. And of course seeing the fans and many friends I still have there again.”
Q: How do you feel about having Turn 17 at the newly refurbished Autodromo Her-manos Rodriguez named after you?
A: “When I found out about the turn naming of course I was delighted. Flattered, proud and delighted in equal measure. The news instantly brought to mind my unexpected overtaking manoeuvre on Berger to come in second behind my Ferrari team-mate Alain Prost back in 1990 – I can’t believe that was 25 years ago and that it’s been 23 years since my last win at the track. The turn naming is very special to me, I feel honoured.”
Q: What do you think about Mexican Sahara Force India driver Checo (Sergio) Pérez and his chance for the future?
A: “I’ve watched him carefully and I think he has a huge amount of talent and potential. Given the right car, the right circumstances and backing, he’s certainly future World Champion material.”
Q: What does Mexico City bring to the F1 calendar?
A: “Incredible diversity and colour. I think it’s great that Mexico is back on the F1 calen-dar and I can’t wait to witness the passion of the Mexican F1 fans first hand.”
Q: How does a driver prepare before driving a new circuit, and in this case Mexico?
A: These days the drivers are incredibly lucky as they have simulators so the data of a new track can be loaded weeks ahead of the race for the driver to prepare. The tech-nology is mind-blowing; the simulators provide such a real experience. It’s nothing like in my day when you prepared by walking and driving the track alone.
Q: The last Grand Prix of Mexico was dominated by Williams; what did you think during the race while you were driving alone on the track?
A: The big thing I thought about when leading any race was the management of the car, you want to make sure that you drive within the car’s limits and finish the race – that’s the most important thing. When I was competing, reliability was a huge issue so once you were out in front, the main focus was on bringing the car home.
Q: Did you imaging that you’d dominate the race in that way, and which driver did you see as the biggest threat?
A: Good question. For me the key has always been to be focussed on myself and my machine and it’s limits and capabilities. Of course I was aware of my opposition, I raced with some of the best, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, and let’s not forget my team mate at the time, Riccardo Patrese, he kept the pressure on me too. I always tried not to look over my shoulder too much though, mostly it was me and my machine in my mind.
Q: Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher are legends of F1, what did you need to beat them at the Grand Prix of Mexico?
A: I needed the perfect car set-up and that’s what I had. My engineer and I put in so much work to ensure the optimum set-up ahead of the race. That was really the key to my success on the day, we prepared really, really well and I drove a good, strong race.
Q: What do you remember of the old circuit of the Grand Prix of Mexico?
A: The main challenge of the old track was getting the car balanced on all the corners. For the most part, this wasn’t possible as the altitude reduced downforce by approxi-mately 20 per cent so we had to prioritise which corners we wanted the best balance on. The old track was a superb test of a driver’s ability and nerve behind the wheel. In addition to the challenge of the track we had the atmospheric changes to deal with such as the heat and the high altitude, both factors but a huge strain on a driver and he must adapt quickly to get the most from competing under such conditions.
Q: The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was it a challenge race track?
A: Yes, it was famous for being extremely challenging. I think it was built on an old salt bed so it moved and shifted over time, it was a really dynamic track and the old Peral-tada was a huge challenge and opportunity from a driver’s perspective.