Did the sheer atmosphere in Mexico City compensate for the clipping of a classic circuit? So the Mexican Grand Prix finally returned last weekend, and though the race itself wasn't exactly for the ages, everyone seemed agreed that the turnout and loudness of the crowd really added something more than normally expected from a new venue. It was almost enough to drown out the frequent complaints beforehand about how the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez had been cut down by F1's most trusted circuit designer Hermann Tilke. What has changed, and what was the result? Peraltada's the most obvious change, and fans could rightly feel upset. When Mexico fell off the F1 calendar after 1992 and maintaining Mexico City's track was less important than the actual city building up around it, this super-fast 180-degree corner could never survive. Its gravel trap replaced by a concrete wall right next to the track, and with no place to bring it further in due to the baseball stadium built in the infield, plus a very fast pit entry with the potential for accidents. To be fair, F1's not the first to deal with a somewhat pacified Peraltada. Both Champ Car and A1GP used a simple chicane to slow down cars before they reached the corner, and in terms of preserving the original as much as possible I honestly would have preferred this. But instead we have the stadium section, and it's probably why fans were aggrieved: to replace a corner which pushed drivers to the limit, with one where they're practically crawling around? Although I'm sceptical that I would ever choose to watch F1 cars at the slowest point on the track, having the baseball grandstands pincering the track like that, full of passionate fans was the best thing the organisers could have done with a section that slow and twisty. Whatever I might say against the new layout, it absolutely did its job: put F1 in a stadium format like other sports, and watch the evocative pictures sell the race by themselves, all with the Mexican tourism logo hung between the two stands. Martin Brundle of Sky Sports F1 wasn't far off when he compared the track to a street circuit, with the walls being so close as they frequently were. Its closest counterpart is really Canada's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve; it has Montreal's tight walls and great fan atmosphere while lacking that track's thrilling fast flow. Both are closed in, though one by water rather than an enormous city. Overall, Mexico now boasts a very typically Tilke layout, with corners now tighter and slower pretty much everywhere, but it's made interesting by the unique challenge the location provides for the teams. The high altitude means less air and less downforce to generate, plus the newly completed track surface refused to afford much grip. Together they added up to lots of mistakes, especially in the esses and heavy braking zones. I will say that when drivers reached turn 1, I kept wondering how they got the car turned into a ninety-degree corner after the highest top speeds of the calendar. So again, Mexico's return definitely wasn't bad, and boasted a bit more actual character and support than F1's other new territories, but I still can't quite put aside my sadness that what once stood is basically Tilke-fied. I think most fans can accept that the changes were mostly necessary to keep up with modern safety requirement. Yet to end on a curmudgeonly note, just because we accept the changes doesn't mean we have to like them. But did you appreciate the changes to the track? Comment below and vote in our poll!