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Magical Mexico City: How the Mexico GP set the standard for F1 venues across the globe

The Mexican GP will remain on the Formula 1 calendar until at least 2025, and rightly so

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Mexico City is a place of culture, colour and passion, where life gets lived to the full every day in a blaze of vibrant patterns, music, and flavourful food.

It is also a sports city, with Mexico City being a part of an ultra-rare club of cities to host the Olympic Games, the World Cup and a Formula 1 Grand Prix traditionally held at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in the southeast of the city.

The 17-turn, 4.304km track is also one of the sport’s most historic venues hosting its first Grand Prix in 1963 before appearing on and off the calendar until 1992 as the circuit struggled to keep up with ever-changing safety standards.

During the 70s, the circuit was renamed the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Hermanos Rodriguez in honour of Ricardo Rodriguez and his older brother Pedro both of whom were superb drivers in their day who made it to Formula 1 but were killed before they could become world champions.

Mexico waited 30 years to have a driver who could fill the drought left behind by the Rodriguez brothers and in 2011, along came Guadalajara’s Sergio Perez driving for Sauber and impressing in his rookie season with five top-10 finishes.

Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Checo-mania reboots the Mexican Grand Prix

In his second campaign, Perez got into his stride, narrowly missing out on victory in Malaysia before adding a third in Canada and another second in Italy to his tally finishing a superb 10th in the Drivers’ Championship, earning himself a McLaren contract for 2013.

Perez’s success and Esteban Guiterrez’s arrival into the sport helped rekindle hopes of a return of the Mexican Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. But despite appearing on the 2013 and 2014 calendars, the race didn’t occur.

However, in 2015, Mexican Formula 1 fans finally got their wish as the first Mexican Grand Prix of 23 years took place, with 336,174 fans packing the stands to catch a glimpse of a dramatically different Formula 1.

Attendance numbers increased the following year as the event won the promoters award from 2015 to 2019, but still, one thing was missing: a Mexican driver on the podium at their home Grand Prix.

Perez put that right on the race’s return in 2021, finishing a popular third behind the title protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, with Perez’s father, Antonio, celebrating wildly in the paddock and below the podium.

Antonio Perez Garibay, father of Red Bull driver Sergio Perez, celebrates his son’s third place at the 2021 Mexican Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Plans for the future

Perez’s recent success in Red Bull earned him the honour of Mexican Sportsman of the Year on the eve of the weekend, and with Sunday’s race set to be a sellout, the Mexican Grand Prix continues to go from strength.

In an exclusive interview with Total Motorsport, Director of Marketing for the F1 Mexico City Grand Prix, Rodrigo Sanchez Peraza added more detail about how much benefit hosting a Grand Prix has on the country, stating that it helps show the world what Mexico can do, as well as helping to promote its culture.

“I think there is one thing in common between all races, which is being part of the Formula 1 World Championship, but for Mexico, our vision is that the race uniquely speaks about Mexico, about our host city, our culture, our colours about our food about our traditions,” Sanchez Peraza said. 

“In the way, the race represents a huge window for Mexico to the world but also the World to see Mexico, so in essence, it represents that unique opportunity, and that is what we aim every year to try to create a unique concept that what in a way would show the World who we are and what we do.”

Sergio Perez of Red Bull during 2022 Mexican GP practice | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Mexico’s F1 extension 

With Checo mania gripping Mexico and Formula 1 booming across the globe, Mexico City has naturally become a favourite amongst fans and Formula 1 personnel alike, who typically stay on after the race to endure the Day of the Dead festival, which typically happens not long after the Grand Prix weekend. 

It was no surprise that Formula 1 decided to extend its deal with Mexico City until 2025, much to the delight of Perez, who talked about the country’s positive exposure in Thursday’s press conference.

“This is something great for our country because this country, we get to show how good that Mexicans are, our Mexican people, our country,” Perez said. 

“So I think Formula 1 gives you that exposure worldwide, so I’m super proud of my country that we are able to secure another contract with Formula 1. So yeah, super happy for that.”

Continuous change pays off for Mexico

Sanchez Peraza was also delighted that the promoter’s efforts to create everything from scratch are paying off as he expanded on how his team changes the event’s look every year.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in action during the 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix | REUTERS/Andres Stapff

“We were extremely excited to be able to continue this venture with Formula 1 and the government of Mexico City,” Sanchez Peraza added.  

“It’s a race that has really consolidated [its place] in the world championship, and for sure, it’s one that’s been popular with the fans, so we’ve put the effort in.

“We’re happy to add three additional years to our contract, so hopefully, we can have Formula 1 for many years to come, we always treat our event as a completely new canvas year after year, so we’re not in the copy and paste scenario, so to speak.”

However, the continual change of the race’s image isn’t easy, with Sanchez Peraza telling Total Motorsport that he has ten designers working under him to improve the fan experience.

“That’s why it takes a year and a half because even from the early internal discussions as to what the creature approach [will be], what do we want to speak about, how we’re going to colour it etc, and I think that’s the challenge because when the fans come it doesn’t get that repetitive feeling,” Sanchez Peraza continued. 

“I have a team of 10 designers, and they’re working twenty-hour days for a year and a half, so it just tells you the amount of new stuff we create for each event, so each other races look different year and year.”

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