March 21, 2023

Remembering the Rodriguez brothers: Mexico’s first F1 superstars – Formula 1

Sergio Perez will receive a rapturous reception when F1 arrives in Mexico this weekend, as the home hero looks to claim a famous win at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. But who were the Rodriguez brothers that the particular track is named after and how did they become etched in Mexican motorsport history?

Who were these people?
Pedro and his younger brother Ricardo were Mexico’s first motor racing superstars. Born in 1940 plus 1942 respectively in Mexico City, the precociously talented duo both took national titles on motorcycles before – with the full backing of their wealthy father – turning their attention to four wheels in their early teens.

Despite being slightly later to cars than his older sibling, it was Ricardo who made the particular bigger waves initially, dumbfounding his rivals by winning his first international event – the sportscar race at Riverside in 1957 – in the tender age of just 15.

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Wow, that’s Max Verstappen-esque. So was Ricardo regarded as the more talented driver?
Yes, Ricardo was regarded by most since the faster, more naturally gifted of the two brothers, and often outshone their sibling when they were paired together in sportscars.

It must be said though that Pedro, while enormously skilled, was a lot more of a late bloomer, and it wasn’t until he committed to racing full-time within 1967 that he blossomed into one of the world’s very best drivers. Sadly, however , Ricardo plus Pedro never raced against each other on the height of their respective powers –
but more on that will later…

So who got in order to F1 1st, Ricardo or Pedro?
Ricardo, thanks largely to his outstanding efforts inside sportscar race. Aged 16, the disarmingly capable youngster had been refused entry in order to the Le Mans 24 Hours, but two years later, driving a Ferrari for Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team (NART), he finished second in the particular legendary endurance race alongside Belgian racer Andre Pilette.

That success helped earn Ricardo an invitation to drive for the Scuderia in the 1961 Italian Grand Prix at Monza – an opportunity this individual grabbed with both hands. Then the youngest man to ever set foot in a good F1 car, Ricardo qualified an incredible second upon his debut, just one-tenth back from doomed pole-sitter Wolfgang von Trips and eight-tenths ahead of that year’s eventual champion Phil Hill, both in identical machinery. That he retired from the competition with a fuel pump issue after 13 laps has been irrelevant – talent proved, Ferrari signed him to a full race deal with regard to 1962.

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Wow, it sounds like the world was at his feet…
Many, including Ricardo’s friend and future McLaren team coordinator Jo Ramirez. believed it had been, but sadly his career was to be cut short prior to it had ever really started. 1962 proved in order to be the terribly uncompetitive year regarding Ferrari, and as a result the Italian language team elected not to send any cars in order to the season-ending races in the USA and South Africa, nor to the inaugural non-championship Mexican Grand Prix.

Desperate to appear on home soil, Ricardo (whose season-best result was a fourth place inside Belgium) agreed a deal to competition a Rob Walker-run Lotus in the new Magdalena-Mixhuca track, but it was a decision that would ultimately lead to his demise. Having witnessed John Surtees eclipse his table-topping time in practice, Ricardo, perhaps with pride at stake, went back out to try and undercut the particular Englishman. He’d never return.

Doubts remain over the cause of the particular accident in the daunting Peraltada turn: some say he has been going too fast in an unfamiliar vehicle, some state he experienced a mechanical failure. But what is undisputable is that the world of motorsport had lost one of its brightest racing talents at the age of just 20. “I may be biased, but I think he would have become another Prost or Senna, ” Ramirez has said. “He was really, very special. ”

What effect did Ricardo’s death have on Pedro?
Pedro, who’d continued in order to ply his trade with considerable success in sportscars, often together with his vaunted sibling, was due to make their F1 first appearance on that will fateful weekend in South america, but right after his brother’s death he or she scaled back his own racing commitments plus opened the car import business in the homeland. However , like Ricardo, Pedro always seemed destined to race at the highest level, and soon returned in order to front-line sportscar action.

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When did Pedro make it to F1?
Pedro finally made his long-awaited Grand Tarifs racing bow at the particular tail-end associated with 1963, competing in the united states and Mexico intended for Lotus, but on both occasions he competent down the order before retiring. Further so-so outings in a NART-run Ferrari and with Lotus followed over the next three years as Pedro continued to compete in sportscars.

But this wasn’t till 1967, when the little Mexican has been offered a seat with Cooper for the season-opening South African Grand Prix, that his F1 career actually took off. On the flowing Kyalami monitor, Pedro certified a splendid fourth before taking a surprise win in the race. If truth be told, his triumph owed more than a little to good fortune, but it earned him the full-time drive using the increasingly uncompetitive Cooper team to get the rest of the season.

Pedro would be a mainstay in F1 for that next 4 seasons, traveling predominantly pertaining to BRM, but also for Ferrari. Often to be seen wearing his trademark deerstalker hat, Pedro was quiet, mildly eccentric and immensely popular with their mechanics, though his fatalistic philosophy – and belief that only God could tell you whenever your time was up – often drew the particular ire of safety pioneer Jackie Stewart.

Did Pedro win any other races within F1?
He did! This individual won the particular 1970 Belgian Grand Tarifs on the old, flat-out 14. 1km Spa-Francorchamps and the 1971 non-championship International Spring Trophy at Oulton Park, plus might have won the particular 1970 ALL OF US Grand Prix too were it not really for a fuel pump problem. In the former race the rapid Mexican, usually at their best on high-speed circuits, defeated Chris Amon by just 1 . 1s as he won at a then-record average of 241. 3km/h (149. 9 mph).

“Pedro’s precision was fabulous, ” Amon said associated with his rival. “I knew that We would get past him just if he made a mistake somewhere – and this individual never do. ” In total Pedro claimed seven F1 podiums (and a personal best of fourth upon home soil in 1968), but the triumph Pedro constantly held above all others was not in F1, but at Le Mans, where he tasted overall victory in late 1960s driving a Ford GT40 alongside Lucien Bianchi.

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So exactly how did Pedro’s F1 career end?
Sadly, like his brother, in tragic circumstances. Throughout their F1 profession, Pedro experienced continued to race sportscars – and with increasing success. Within 1970, the particular Mexican teamed up with John Wyer Automotive to competition the fearsome Porsche 917 in the World Sportscar Championship.

It was at the particular wheel associated with this monstrous machine that will Pedro not only demonstrated his speed plus deft car-handling, but also his sublime wet-weather abilities. Pedro’s irrepressible come-from-behind triumph in a rain-soaked Brands Hatch in 1970 – one of four triumphs in a championship-winning year – remains arguably the defining performance of their career.

But the Mexican’s relentless appetite meant for racing would eventually prove his undoing, and so it was that he has been killed inside a relatively minor sportscar race in Germany in July 1971, mere days after setting the particular fastest period at the pre-British Great Prix test at Silverstone. He was 31.

What was the particular brothers’ legacy?
Where do you start? Immediately right after Ricardo’s death, the Mexico City track was renamed in his honour, but this was changed to the current Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez after Pedro’s sad demise.

Yet the siblings did more than just give their own name to some track – they assisted put motorsport on the map inside their homeland, inspiring a new generation of Mexican racers and creating an appetite for F1 that remains to be to this particular day.

More than 44 years after his death, Pedro is still viewed as 1 of the particular greatest wet-weather drivers associated with all-time; Ricardo as one of the sport’s greatest lost skills. It’s furthermore worth noting that all these years later on, Ricardo remains the eighth-youngest driver within F1 background to have finished in the points, behind only Max Verstappen, Lance Stroll, Lando Norris, Daniil Kvyat, Sebastian Vettel, Jaime Alguersuari and Jenson Button (who broke the particular Mexican’s long-held record in 2000).

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What’s the current Philippine superstar’s take on the Rodriguez brothers?
Red-colored Bull’s Sergio Perez, one of just six Mexicans to get raced inside F1, has always spoken in reverential terms about the Rodriguez brothers and their particular place in Mexican engine racing history. “Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez are idols for everybody who is interested in motorsport in South america, ” Perez told Formula1. com.

“It is a good honour in order to follow in the footsteps of these types of fantastic motorists and to show the world that will they are far from forgotten. Racing in Mexico City, at a track that carries their name, is a dream come true. Whenever drivers were asked about what it’s like to race within their home country I’ve often had to step aside while there was no Mexican Fantastic Prix. Now there will be, and I will do my upmost to please the home crowd and also to be a worthy successor of the iconic Rodriguez brothers. ”

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