Following the announcement that Mexico City will in 2015 host a Formula One Grand Prix for first time since 1992, the news of the race’s return was today greeted with enthusiasm in the Hungaroring paddock.
“It’s great, I’m so happy,” said Force India’s Mexican racer Sergio Perez of the new, which will see F1 return to the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit for the first time since Nigel Mansell won for Williams in the second race of the 1992 season.
“Since I left my home at 13, 14 years I never raced in Mexico. I never raced in my home country,” added Perez. “Now to go back after so many years and race actually in Formula One is great.
“They’ve been really pushing for so many years, since I came to Formula One four years ago,” said Perez, who hails from the city of Guadalajara. “The spirit of the fans is massive back home. It’s great for my country, for all the fans back home and I’m sure you all will be surprised at how good the event will be. I’m just very proud and excited. It’s great that we can confirm that we will have a Mexican GP next year.”
Countryman Esteban Gutierrez, who hails from the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, which hosted a round of the US CART championship from 2001 to 2006, added that the news is a “dream come true” for Mexicans.
“I have good feelings about it, because [after] all these years that Mexico has been involved in Formula One, with obviously first Checo getting to Formula One and now myself, this is a great step to have a grand prix. It’s really a dream come true for many of us,” he said. “I had the chance to race once in Mexico City, back in 2008, when we did the world finals of Formula BMW. It was a great experience. I think it was an introduction to what it can be, [though] obviously very, very small by comparison.”
Mexico’s return to the F1 calendar has been touted several times in the past. In 2003, a race was proposed for a purpose-built circuit, to be called Mantarraya, close to the tourist city of Cancun in the state of Quintana Roo in the east of the country. The race got as far as the drawing board, with Hermann Tilke having drawn up plans, but land disputes eventually scuppered plans for the $80-million track and its proposed slot in 2006.
The trail went quiet until last year when a new race was proposed for the Hermanos Rodgriguez circuit last year, with the event being included on a provisional 2014 calendar.
Formula One Race Director Charlie Whiting visited the track last September, in the company of former Circuit of the Americas organiser Tavo Hellmund, representatives from Tilke’s organisation and by FIA Vice President and Mexico native José Abed.
However, the event dropped off the schedule when the final calendar was revealed at the December 2013 meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris.
Work has continued behind the scenes, however, and at a press conference in Mexico City yesterday, Alejandro Soberon the CEO of live events company CIE, confirmed that a deal is now in place to stage the race at a revamped Hermando Rodriguez circuit.
“It is a fact,” Soberon told a press conference at the City’s Banamex Centre. “Start your engines, F1 will return to Mexico next year. This is Mexico’s time.”
The question now is what shape the track will take as it is redeveloped and also when it might slot into the F1 calendar.
In its glory years the circuit’s signature corner was the Peraltada, a banked 180-degree right-hander, but this is likely to be too dangerous more modern F1. Indeed a video (link below) shown at the launch appears to show that the famed corner will now be cut by a right-hander and a hairpin before rejoining midway through top of the long corner.
“It will be totally different,” he said. “I was so unlucky not to be in a Formula One race back in Mexico but I think it will be quite different. There are a lot of things to be changed. The circuit is quite old. I mean, the last time you raced there was 22 years ago. They already started to build a new circuit. It will be fantastic once again; you are all going to be surprised. I’m sure it will become a very popular grand very soon.”
The obvious slot for the race is as a back-to-back with the US Grand Prix at Austin, though that might not find favour with organisers of the Texas race who each year benefit considerably from an influx of Mexican fans currently unable to see F1 in their home country. A late-calendar date would also give the organisers of the Mexico City race enough time to remodel the Hermanos Rodriguez.