Formula One heads to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez this weekend for round nineteen of the 2016 Formula One season.
Mexico has seen six of its drivers compete in Formula One, the two most famous of these are the Rodríguez brothers, Ricardo and Pedro.
The first of the brothers to enter the sport was Ricardo who made his debut with Ferrari at the penultimate round of 1961 at the Italian Grand Prix where he qualified second on the grid and manged to remain with the leaders for a time before being forced to retire due to a fuel system issue.
He didn’t race in the season finale at Watkins Glen but thanks to his impressive debut, Ferrari kept him for the 1962 season.
Having said that, Ricardo only appeared in four races of a possible eight in 1962, the first being the season opener at Zandvoort. One of the four races he competed in was the Belgium Grand Prix:
Belgium was round three of the 1962 season, but Ricardo wouldn’t appear again until round six, which was the German Grand Prix, where he once again managed to finish in the points.
Due to his impressive start to life in Formula One, Mexico City quickly decided to construct a racing circuit in a public park in the area of Magdalena Mixhuca. Unable to secure an official championship round for 1962, the authorities decided to host a non-championship round instead.
Eager to compete in front of his home crowd, Ricardo appeared at the event with Rob Walker Racing after Ferrari decided not to enter. He however suffered a fatal accident during practice for the event.
The stats may not be impressive compared to others of the period such as Jim Clark, John Surtees, Graham Hill or Jack Brabham. But to many, Ricardo was considered to have the potential to become a future champion of the series. He held the record for youngest driver to score points in Formula One (1962 Belgian Grand Prix), which wouldn’t be beaten until Jenson Button scored his first point at the 2000 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Prior to his debut in Formula One, Ricardo competed in sports car racing and made his Le Mans 24 Hours debut in 1959 driving alongside his brother. They unfortunately failed to finish. Ricardo would go on to appear at Le Mans a further three times, claiming a second place finish in 1960 alongside Belgian, Andre Pilette. The remaining two he raced with his brother where once again on both occasions they failed to finish.
Pedro was the elder of the two brothers and didn’t appear in Formula One until 1963, instead participating in sports car racing in endurance racing, predominantly with Ferrari and then later with Porsche.
He achieved twenty six victories in his sports car racing career, amongst them an outright 24 hours Le Mans victory in 1968 driving a Ford GT40 alongside Belgian, Lucien Bianchi. He also achieved four victories at Daytona (two of which were in the current 24 hour distance).
As mentioned earlier, Pedro made his Formula One debut in 1963, at the US Grand Prix with Lotus. He qualified thirteenth but retired on lap 36 with engine issues. He would go on to compete in a further fifty three Grand Prix for the likes of Ferrari, Cooper, BRM and Lotus.
He achieved two victories in Formula One, the first being the 1967 South African Grand Prix with Cooper, the second came in 1970 at the Belgian Grand Prix with BRM. Pedro achieved a further five podium finishes and an additional fifteen further points finishes.
Pedro’s highest finish in the Drivers Championship was sixth, which he achieved in 1967 and 1968. Also, his highest finish at his home Grand Prix was a fourth, achieved in the 1968 season.
Pedro unfortunately was also involved in a fatal accident, at a sports car race in 1971. He remains the only Mexican to have won a Formula 1 Grand Prix to date. His record of seven podiums has only just been matched by current Formula 1 driver, Sergio Perez, who drew level with Pedro at the 2016 European Grand Prix, after finishing third.
The Mexico City Grand Prix circuit situated in Magdalena Mixhuca was renamed the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez in honour of the two brothers shortly after Ricardo’s fatal accident.
The Scuderia Hermanos Rodríguez AC was founded in 1959 by the two brothers and has since been refounded as a civil association with the aim to recover Mexico’s racing history and to pay homage to outstanding sportsmen in Motorsport.