Sergio Perez: ‘Formula One Will be Huge in Mexico’
September 11, 2013
Mexico’s return to the Formula One calendar in 2014 after more than 20 years’ absence will be one of the highlights of the season, the country’s leading racer Sergio Perez said in an interview.
The Guadalajara-born McLaren Formula One Racing Team driver, who will be hoping to have a car capable of winning his home race after a lackluster season for the British team this year, told reporters at the Italian Grand Prix that it would be huge.
A draft calendar circulated to teams before the race at Monza, Italy had a record 21 rounds and had Mexico listed for a November 9th date, the week before the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, subject to track approval. If all twenty-one races do go ahead, the 2014 season would be the busiest in Formula One history.
Mexico is taking an increasing interest in Formula One, with telecommunications giant Telmex, which is owned by the world’s richest man Carlos Slim, throwing millions at the sport. Telmex helped to bankroll the careers of Perez and also Esteban Gutierrez, who is now with Sauber Motorsports, a Swiss Formula One team.
“I’m very excited. It’s not confirmed yet, it’s just a pre-calendar but I feel there are very big chances now of this happening,” Perez said. “It will be great for my country, great for the sport. Formula One will be amazed how popular this grand prix can become… it will be huge for Formula One as a sport to go there.”
Mexico last hosted a grand prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 1992, when Nigel Mansell was triumphant for Williams who were a top team in those days.
They have scored just one point this season, however, and that is not the only way in which the sport’s landscape has changed with venues like Russia and India opening up.
He said he had been kept abreast of developments in Mexico City and was there a few weeks ago to watch his brother race.
“I know how good the racetrack is,” Perez said. “Obviously they need to rebuild it but there is time enough. I really hope for the good of the sport and my country that it happens.”
The Mexican reckoned a few flat-out months of work would be required to upgrade the pit and paddock facilities but the layout was good.
“Looking at it, they have to change the pits to make them proper for Formula One, improve a few corners maybe and apart from that it’s just a matter of time what they can do,” he said. “But I think they don’t have to do big things for the racetrack to be ready.”
The organizers of the United States Grand Prix in Austin might be less thrilled with Mexico’s return, or at least the timing of it. Around 50,000 Mexicans crossed the border to attend last year’s inaugural race in Austin, but they may be less inclined to do so next year with the Mexican race slated for the weekend before Texas.