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Momentum grows for 2014 Mexico Grand Prix
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Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Feb 2013   |  5:30 pm GMT  |  49 comments

Will we see a Mexican Grand Prix in the next year? Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said he is in discussions to host a race in Mexico during the 2014 season.

Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, which hosted the last Mexico Grand Prix in 1992, is in line to host the event, however it requires a major upgrade. But this is thought to be faster and more efficient than building a new circuit elsewhere in the country.

Interest in F1 in Mexico has increased in recent years with the emergence of Sergio Perez, who scored three podiums for Sauber last season before signing for McLaren for 2013.

Meanwhile, Sauber have promoted Perez’s countryman Esteban Gutierrez to a race driver to make two Mexicans on the grid this season.

There have been rumours of a return to Mexico at a street circuit in the beach resort of Cancun, but Ecclestone says Mexico City is now the frontrunner to secure a race.

“Mexico City is a better place to hold the race than Cancun,” he told Autoweek. “In more or less any city around the world you could ask people ‘where is Mexico City?’ and they would say Mexico. If you said to somebody where is Cancun they would say ‘I don’t know.’

“We were going to do a race in Cancun. We had a contract but they couldn’t get the permission they wanted.”

It is generally viewed in F1 as desirable to host an F1 race in or close to the capital city of a country.

The Mexico City project is believed to have some key men behind it; one is Carlos Slim Domit, who is the son of the world’s ricest man, Carlos Slim, sits on the FIA Senate and has had financially backed the careers of Perez and Gutierrez.

Another is Alejandro Soberon who is chief executive of CIE, the world’s third largest live entertainment company, who have done studies on the project and see a business model which might work. There have been suggestions that Tavo Hellmund, who was involved in the Circuit of the Americas project which hosted last year’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, might be another. But sources in South America suggest that he is not integral to this project.

Ecclestone added: “Everybody thinks that Carlos Slim is going to pay the bills for the race but I know he’s not,”

Sources in Mexico say that Slim has worked hard to build interest in F1 in his home country, but having bankrolled the careers of Perez and Gutiettez, he would like someone else to pay for the costs of hosting a race.

That said, time is not on their side. Perez’ first season at McLaren is this year and no-one can know how long he will stay with the front-running team. It is important that the race happens as soon as possible, hence the plan to refurbish Hermanos Rodgriguez.

Mexico City has a population of around 21m, making it the biggest in the western hemisphere.

Following the successful running of the United States Grand Prix in Austin, which is one of the closest major cities to the border of Mexico, Ecclestone said that he believed “half the people that went to Austin were Mexican. There is absolutely a lot of potential in Mexico.”

However, the 2014 calendar is already looking packed with Russia and New Jersey set to join. If Mexico was to be added too, and no race from this season’s calendar dropped out, that would make 22 grands prix.

The number of races per year was restricted to 20 by the Concorde Agreement, but there is no Concorde Agreement in place currently. Nevertheless, it is likely that additional races over 20 would require unanimous consent by all 11 teams, who would all receive a slice of the additional commercial revenues.

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49 Comments
  1. Sean says:

    This is great news. I can think of few better places to put a GP. But I also think what F1 really needs is a new street circuit with a great backdrop and plenty of elevation changes. Pretty yet flat circuits are boring.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      If they use the same venue but updated, please, please, please leave Peratalda alone!
      As to street circuits with elevation change… I was in Barcelona a few years back and took a walk around the Montjuich area, where they held the Spainish GP in the early 70′s.
      F1 must have been amazing to watch there

      1. Phil says:

        Not going to happen unfortunately. It was dangerous back in ’92, so now they wouldn’t dream of it. A monza 1st chicane is most likely in front of it I’d have thought.

      2. Bobby says:

        NASCAR experimented with a chicane the first few years (2005-06) of Nationwide races at Mexico City on the pit straight (it was removed for the final two races, 2007-08). CART had two different types of chicanes into Peraltada (which is now flat and surrounded by Foro Sol, a sporting venue built after the last Mexican Grand Prix, for concerts, but in 2000 was turned into a baseball stadium after the city’s baseball stadium was demolished to make way for a shopping centre.

        Some variants of the chicane include a right turn just before the right-side grandstand, turning left at centre field, turning left where it intersects just past the third-base dugout, and a right-turn to rejoin the Peraltada halfway through. The grandstands hold 25,000 so the chicane may work for seating. There is also a possibility for “spare” media outlets in the baseball stadium press box and utilisation of the suites.

    2. KRB says:

      Elevation change and great backdrop? Isn’t that what the New Jersey race is supposed to provide? Manhattan in the background, racing near the water.

  2. Carlos Aguilar says:

    “That said, time is not on their side. Perez’ first season at McLaren is this year and it isn’t clear how long he will stay with the front-running team.”

    James Allen at it again. Can’t wait for Sergio to shut some mouths

    1. James Allen says:

      No, what I mean is that you need to get on with it, when a county gets a breakthrough star, you need to capitalise

    2. matty says:

      It’s a fair point , Hiekki only got a short while at Macca , Perez has to deliver , which i’m sure he’s capable of but it’s by no means a given that he’ll be there in 2015 or beyond

    3. Tom Westmacott says:

      I think the point was that a Mexico GP in 2014 would be very well timed. However if they have to find a new location, raise funds, design and build a track, and negotiate a place on the calendar, it could be another 3-4 years away.

      Given that you want a local star to draw audiences to the first few years of the track to cover costs and establish the event in people’s minds, you’re looking at betting the viability of the venture on Perez remaining a front runner through to 2020 in that case – possible, but a big gamble.

      Hence, modernizing the existing track and holding the inaugural race next year is a much lower cost and lower risk route.

      And purely from a fan’s point of view, the historic track seems a more attractive prospect than a new Tilkedrome.

    4. Phil says:

      Luca Di Montezemolo was at it as well for most of last year I seem to recall.

      I think he’ll do pretty well, but its a big risk to spend a 100 million on a new facility for it to be ready in a couple of years if he isn’t around…

  3. madmax says:

    Editor, you don’t seem overly confident on Perez doing well at McLaren!

    1. Davexxx says:

      NO, as James says above, many seem to be misunderstanding what he meant – that (a) they (Mexico & F1) need to make hay while the sun shines – capitalizing on Sergio being with McLaren NOW, not next year, when (b) everything will change, with the different specs of cars etc, and (c) I have a feeling that, given F1′s Musical Chairs, there will be other round of drivers chopping and changing again next year and McLaren, still smarting over having to take Sergio as ‘the best of the rest’ to replace Hamilton at short notice, will probably have a chance to snap up a ‘better driver’. This is no dig at Sergio, I hope he WILL do well, but many feel he isn’t quite McLaren material.

      1. hRoqz says:

        So was Heikki and Coulthard!! c’mon…

    2. ACx says:

      No one I know of or have read is overly confident of Perez’s future at McLaren. I’m not even sure McLaren are. When the signed him, there wasn’t a lot of choice out there. I’m glad they signed him, but lets be honest, there is a far amount of gamble in there.

      Mind you, in the back of my mind is a general worry about McLaren as a team, so…

  4. alastair emmerson says:

    Thought the fia and Bernie want to make f1 green friendly, if so why do they insist on promoting tracks in such distant countries, if this happens it’ll mean that another track in Europe will be dropped

    1. Simmo says:

      They want to appear green, but in reality it is just hypocrisy. They go where there is money they can get.

      Unfortunately, yes – another Europe track will be gone, but at least in Mexico they will appreciate the GP – unlike in Korea, etc., where the spectator areas are all empty, and everybody in Europe has to wake up at 6am, so they don’t watch it.

      I would love to see France return full time, and other European races, and cut the likes of Korea, etc.

    2. Yohann says:

      Distant countries, F1 is a world wide sport.

    3. Distant from where? Mars? It’s a world championship, not a European one. ;)

      Besides, perhaps Mexicans would like the opportunity to attend more than one race a year without having to go to Brazil, Canada, Europe or Asia?

    4. ferggsa says:

      Distant from whom? I live like 5 subway stations away from the track
      Not all fans are Brits or even European, as for tradition, Mexico has hosted quite a few Grands Prix

    5. Sebee says:

      Reason is simple. Brazil is a flagship GP now. Bernie is tired of it being declared “most dangerous” – where people are held at gun point and robbed. So he has found a new place that is even more lawless and can take that “most dangerous” label away from Brazil.

      I lost cound how many tourist have been killed in Mexico since New Year. But it’s into the double digits.

      1. Carl Sheen says:

        Simple as F1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, in theory there should be an even split between each continent, would be a shame as we lose lots of historical European venues.

        But you definitely can’t argue that F1 should be worldwide.

      2. Sebee says:

        100% agreed.

        But look at the craziness of Mexico.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/mexico/9903999/Hitman-aged-13-found-tortured-and-killed-in-Mexico.html

        Now set a date when the VIP and tourists arrive and it will be like Christmas for these guys.

    6. ACx says:

      By that logic, France is not green, since most teams are based in the UK. Poor Ferrari will have to race themselves in Italy.

  5. goferet says:

    Uh, can’t help but Lol at Bernie’s reasoning for not holding the race at Cancun

    Seriously, anyone that doesn’t know where Cancun is, isn’t your typical F1 fan.

    Me, I think Cancun would have been perfect for, F1 is glamorous and Cancun is the place where you can find the glamorous people (read sponsors)

    However, the only negative in Cancun’s favour is it would have been a street circuit and we all know how much fun those races tend to be.

    Right, if Mexico get the green light, first off, we’re losing a European race for sure because more than 20 races in a season is back breaking work for the teams.

    Secondly, if Mexico goes ahead, for sure, Mr Slim will have to pay for Bernie’s licence fee for not too many mortals can afford Bernie’s fees (or in other words not too many mortals are willing to cough up Bernie’s fees).

    1. BW says:

      European venues are desperately seeking money. Where is another European GP to make it 20 this season.. uh.. France.. Austria.. Turkey.. Portugal..

    2. Have you ever been to Melbourne, Monaco, Valencia or Singapore?

      One would suspect not.

      Street circuits can be entertaining on TV too, whereas some purpose built tracks can offer very processional races. Bahrain, Barcelona, India, Abu Dhabi…

      1. Anne says:

        Last year Valencia was the best or one of the best races. Things are not black and white sometimes. Monaco is a classic despite the fact that is not very fun to watch. I would get rid of Bahrain, there is political turmoil there. And Korea, too many empty seats. It is a good thing to explore possibilities in the Americas.

    3. John Myburgh says:

      You ever thought there may be an ulterior motive with the Mexican GP? Remember, the guy that Bernie originally signed the contract with for COTA was done in by his partners and forced out. Read an interesting piece on this on TJ13 and considering the c33% of the attendees of the Austin Race was Mexican.. and Mr E’s friend got done in.. perhaps it could be COTA that gets dropped in place of Mexico and New Jersey ;) Have a read here and let me know what you think: http://wp.me/p2HWOP-1tW

      1. Rudy says:

        I live in Mexico and I can tell you as of today The Hermanos Rodriguez track is not up to F-1 standards but there’s time and lots of money behind CIE Group or the Slim family. I don’ t see Slim paying the race fee, he’s no fool but he does see a business oportunity as new laws are being pushed to open the Telecomm sector in the country. It is highly possible he will go for the F-1 webcast if Bernie and FOM decide to go that way. He has already set a company and service in Mexico called Claro, similar to Netflix. Contents on demand.
        As of Cancun, c’mon, everyone knows where it is, but right now there is some ruffle going on due to local politics over there as it is governed by a party different from the Central government. Right now there is a big fuss going on in Cancun due to the construction of a huge shopping mall called Dragon Mart (yes, it is Chinese) and the negative impact on local jobs and fair trade. For now Cancun is a no. I”ll keep you informed.

      2. John Myburgh says:

        Please do keep us informed Rudy – its good when you have an ear on the ground.

        Also, you’ve mentioned Claro is Slim venture. It seems to me that he bankrolls the Sauber F1 team then. I know Telemex is one of his companies but Claro has been on the cars for ages has it not?

    4. ACx says:

      Been following F1 properly since ’91. I’m well educated and fairly aware that there is a rest of the world. Never heard of the place. Which, IMHO, is a good reason to go there. Although, I’d also be quite happy with Mexico City. Just a race back in Mexico would be nice.

      Actually, while Im at it, IIRC, Cart/IRL/Indycar used to race at an amazingly spectacular track in Mexico. It was set among loads of incredible looking industrial buildings. It looked very post apocalyptic and dramatic. Where ever that was, go there!!!

      1. Matthew says:

        Do you mean the race at Monterrey? A nice track, but one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. Not a good choice of location.

      2. ACx says:

        Yeah, that’s the one. Cheers.

        Based on that, I did a google, and here is an image I found that shows what I meant:
        http://pix.crash.net/motorsport/360/12404.jpg

        Have to ask, if it is so dangerous, how did Cart/IRL get away with it? Or were there incidents?

        Shame though, as it does look dramatic. Although, to be fair, I don’t remember what the actual track or the race was like. Might have been rubbish!!!!!

      3. Matthew says:

        It wasn’t as bad back in the Cart/IRL days as it is now. Since then, with the (previous) Mexican government’s war on drugs, the conflict between cartels has become far more dangerous than it ever was before; all over Mexico, not just this one city. There is no such thing as a “safe” city in Mexico anymore, but in recent years Monterrey has become one of the most dangerous of all, thanks to the cartels.

      4. Tim Scarratt says:

        The CART/ChampCar cirsuit you’re thinking of is Fundora Park in Monterrey. Nice circuit, but probably not up to F1 standards.

  6. Random 79 says:

    @Carlos and madmax:

    How a driver stays with a team is usually based on performance and that goes both ways.

    Maybe Sergio will absolutely blitz everyone this year and get offered a top contract from all the other teams for 2014.

    Not saying it *will* happen – or even that it’s likely – but it’s just another way to look at it :)

  7. paul says:

    As much as I want Checo to succeed (I am Mexican), he is an unknown quantity as of today. I agree with James, the mexican GP has to happen fast. We mexicans have a short attention span, interest fades quickly… on the other hand, it is true that half the attendance at Austin last year were mexican, I was there!

  8. Anne says:

    Good!!! The more races in the Americas the better.Fans are very passionate about motor sports unlike in Korea. The only downside will be fans doing the mexican wave like we see in football matches all the time.

  9. goferet says:

    @ BW

    I believe France is the most likely candidate taking into account the recent influx of French drivers

    1. ramsa says:

      3 french driver with the latest announcemtn of Bianchi ..other 2 being Grosjean/Vergne or is Monoco GP deemed as pseudo French Gp… and renault being the championship winning engine …certainly proper French GP needs a look in….

      Korean GP,Bahrain GP are 2 GPs that the calendar can afford to avoid …CHinese GP comes a close 3rd but then China is a huge economy to overlook

  10. Methusalem says:

    Please forgive me if I sound impolite, but why is Bernie always poker faced?

    1. KRB says:

      As in he looks as though someone’s just poked him in the eye?

  11. Simmo says:

    Speaking of Grands Prix in America, how are the plans for the 2014 New Jersey GP going?

  12. hRoqz says:

    As in our last F1 season back to 1992, México doesn´t need any mexican driver to hold an F1 GP, since we have a big fan audience. Certainly Checo is going shut some mouths. I can tell!

  13. Richard says:

    Mexico isn’t in South America.

  14. Brocky says:

    I think the least of the worries for the Euro races is the potential of a Mexican GP, it’s the fact that most of the Euro counties (and companies) are still in deep recession. That is more likely to kill another Euro GP. The perfect time for the Mexican race would be at the tail of the first races, after China, and instead of going to the dust bowl Bahrain, they could head the other way around the globe and do Mexico, then continue on to Europe for the Spanish race. That way the US GP is also protected from having another race nearby around the same time to steal customers from. I’m a genius, give Bernie the boot, I can do his job, see, it’s easy :)

  15. BurgerF1 says:

    “It is generally viewed in F1 as desirable to host an F1 race in or close to the capital city of a country.”

    Really? If this is true, then Bernie must’ve failed his geography lessons. Or F1 has a very different definition of “in or close to” than I do!

    Must be because they commute to tracks in helicopters!

  16. Postcard Geographer says:

    “It is generally viewed in F1 as desirable to host an F1 race in or close to the capital city of a country.”

    Is there any evidence for that? As far as I know, it is generally well viewed to have sporting venues near population centres, but neither recent nor established circuits have a particular tendency to cluster near national capitols (excluding city states like Monaco, Singapore, Bahrain etc).

    Given that the Bahrain Grand Prix still has a contract, it’s childish to pretend that anything other than money plays a part in these decisions. If the dear leader Kim Jong-Un loved motorsports instead of basketball, and if he could afford it, we would see a Pyongyang Grand Prix in no time.

  17. Arturo says:

    I’m a Mexican and I’m a big fan of Checo. Truth is for many Mexican F1 fans it is pretty expensive to make a trip to Austin, Montreal or Brazil so it would be a great business to upgrade the Hermanos Rodriguez and bring F1 back. But also Checo needs to start delivering results, McLaren needs to make a serious upgrade to the car for Belgium so they can to well in the rest of the season.
    Cancun would’ve been a good host, I actually heard Hermann Tilke designed a track there, Cancun is sort of like The Mexican Monaco.
    Right now, another spot was just given to Austria, that makes 22 races, 2 of them will have to go, probably Korea, I don’t think Bahrain will go out cause they will host the inaugural race in 2014. This spot given to Austria makes the possibilities of a Mexican GP even less.

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