28 OCTOBER 2016
MEXICAN GP – FRIDAY PRACTICE
First Practice Session: 1:21.727, Position: 8, Laps: 27
Second Practice Session: 1:20.448, Position: 5, Laps: 43
“It’s really difficult to find the right set-up with these conditions, when there is low grip you have a bit of under-steer and also a bit of over-steer so setting the car up is tricky. I think we improved from the morning but there is still some progress to make so we’ll still prepare for a pretty low-grip track tomorrow and try to improve the balance. I think it will get better, I expected the grip to be higher after a year but it was still very slippery. By Sunday the last half of the race will be better but I think we’ll fight the balance from now until the end, trying to get comfortable with a slick-feeling track. The supersoft today wasn’t a great tyre for the long runs as it wasn’t lasting. I don’t know how the others got on but I believe everyone has had a few problems with that compound so it’ll be interesting in qualifying tomorrow. We might see a mixed bag again.”
First Practice Session: 1:22.877, Position: 14, Laps: 10
Second Practice Session: 1:20.619, Position: 7, Laps: 42
“It was not ideal to miss a lot of the first practice session because of my brakes overheating, but we did some good work on the car in the second session which was positive. The brake issue was from pushing a bit hard on the in lap, therefore the temperatures were higher than usual. Due to the time I missed this morning I am still not completely happy with the set-up of the car over a short distance, but I think we have found a good long run pace for now. It was a bit tricky out there on supersofts but the car felt especially good on the medium compound, which I think is a good sign for race day. I think we can be competitive on Sunday as I was still making set-up changes towards the end of the second session, they are starting to come together now so I can improve from here. The make-up is off today, so it’s game face for the rest of the weekend.”
Hunting High and Low
Some of you may have noticed that this weekend you aren’t quite the finely honed athletic machine you normally are, and though the obvious culprit might be seven straight days of Austin BBQ the truth is that we are, of course, at quite an altitude here in Mexico City, with the track 2,229m above sea level to be precise. However, while this weekend’s sporting endeavours will be conducted at altitude, there are plenty more extreme heights and depths sportsmen will go to in pursuit of victory (and we’re not talking about skiers or mountain climbers)…
1. On Your (High-Altitude Bike) – The Yak Attack is the highest mountain bike race on Earth, climbing to a height of 5416m (17,769.03ft) above sea level. Across 500km, 10 stages and a temperature range of +30c to -20c, it’s only for the toughest MTB riders. The 2016 race starts next week and after crossing the formidable Thorong La pass in the Himalayas, the race will head into the lunar landscape of the ‘Forbidden Kingdom’ of Upper Mustang, which at an average elevation of 4,000m is one of the world’s most remote and untouched areas.
2. Running the Dizzy Heights – to find the world’s highest marathon we also head back to the Himalayas, for the Everest Marathon. The start line, at Gorak Shep, is 5184m (17,000 feet), close to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. The finish is at the Sherpa town of Namche Bazaar at 3446m (11,300ft) and the course is a measured 42 km (26.2 miles) over rough mountain trails. Held every two years since 1987 it last took place in May of this year and was won by Nepali soldier Bed Bahadur Sunuwar. It took him just four hours and 10 seconds.
3. Dead Pool – At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest swimming race in the world will take place on November 15 this year when a group of swimmers will attempt something that has never been done before: to swim across the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea Swim Challenge is being held to raise awareness of the fact that the sea has been shrinking rapidly in recent times and it is in real danger of being drastically reduced in size if tangible measures are not taken to save it. It’s not as simple as it sounds though. With roughly 35 per cent salinity, (10 times saltier than the ocean) the Dead Sea presents many life-threatening challenges – not least intake of water during the swim can be fatal!
4. How Low Can You Go – If the Dead Sea isn’t low enough for you, then how about the world’s deepest scuba dive? In 2014, Egypt’s Ahmed Gabr set a new record of 332.35m (1,090ft 4.5in) in the Red Sea off the coast of Dahab, Egypt. Gabr needed approximately 12 minutes to reach his record depth, but to ensure safe passage back to the surface, the Egyptian required nearly 15 hours to pressure related problems. If scuba diving seems too easy what about freediving? The world record for No Limits Apnea (in which divers use weighted sleds to drag them down) is held by Austria’s Herbert Nitsch. On June 6th, 2012, Herbert dove to 253.2m (830.8ft), the height of two and half Big Bens. According to his website Herbert can hold his breath for nine minutes!
5. Top to Bottom – Finally, and without wanting to blow our own trumpet too much, we’re pretty confident we’ve run F1 cars at their highest and lowest. In 2011, we drove a showcar along the Khardung-La pass in the Leh region of India. It’s the world’s highest motorable road at 5,602m (18,380ft). Then in April of this year we reversed the thing by taking the RB7 to the Dead Sea where Pierre Gasly thrilled the locals with a high-speed demo at 420m below sea level.