Passion vs paranoia: Drivers weigh in tighter security measures in Mexico City GP paddock

Can Max Verstappen earn a fifth F1 victory at the 2023 Mexico City GP?


Sergio Perez, George Russell and Zhou Guanyu all welcomed a cap on the number of fans allowed into the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix paddock after admitting things got out of hand in 2022.

Twelve months ago the event drew criticism for having too many people around the drivers as they prepared to race, with similar problems reported at the 2023 Italian and Dutch GP.

Pierre Gasly complained that Mexican fans had even rifled through his rucksack and opened his passport, but the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has responded by limiting attendance in the paddock for 2023.

“We’ve got to appreciate the Mexican fans are really enthusiastic,” Perez told the media. “But at the same time we have to make sure the drivers are comfortable going around the paddock and that should be a nice balance.

“I just want everyone to have a great time in my country and I think that’s something that went over the limit last year and hopefully this year can be improved. Because overall in my opinion it’s the best reception in the world.”

Zhou was racing as a rookie in 2022 and put in one of his best qualifying sessions of the year to start the race in 12th, but couldn’t turn that into points as he actually slipped backwards and finished 13th.

However, he said he could already notice a difference this time around, a week after finishing in that same position at the US GP.

“Last year was pretty chaotic in the paddock in general,” Zhou added. “I think today has actually been not too bad so let’s see at the weekend

“It’s great to have all the passion that they have as Mexican fans but they have to give drivers some room, we’re here trying to give them a very good show, trying to work as hard as we can.”

Russell recounts harrowing 2022 Mexico City GP

Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing leads George Russell of Mercedes at the start of 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

George Russell was one of the big losers of the 2022 Mexico City GP, starting on the front row after a fantastic qualifying he fell victim to Mercedes‘ ultra-conservative strategy call and ended up off the podium at the chequered flag.

Mercedes were the only team in the top-seven to run a medium-hard strategy, meaning he couldn’t even challenge Verstappen on the long long run down to turn one, before falling back to fourth with a crippling 37-lap stint on the slowest tyres.

“For me, the more the merrier is great but at the end of the day we’re all here to do a job,” Russell said. “Last year we were struggling just to get from our engineers’ office to the garage without people jumping on us and sticking cameras right in our face and it was a bit of a stange environment.

“So I’m happy for the paddock to be packed as long as we’ve all got a sensible way through to get to where we got to be.”


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