For the first time in 23 years, Formula 1 fever has returned to Mexico, but watching this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix live will be coming at a price for some.
Although the best seats for the practice sessions, qualifying and actual race were sold out soon after they went on sale, some websites are offering tickets at hugely inflated prices.
The original cost of seats on the F1 official website ranged from $92 to $1,200, but now even the cheapest ones are reselling online for around $790.
Along with a group of businessmen, the Mexican government has invested around $360 million in bringing Formula 1 back to Mexico
The most expensive tickets for this weekend’s F1 race, which include access to VIP areas and the pits, are going for as much as $13,500, with some websites offering payment plans.
In Mexico, the resale of tickets for shows and sports events is common, and ticket “scalpers” are often found at the entrance to venues making transactions with customers that are far from legal.
The excitement surrounding Sunday’s race has also raised expectations about the improved track and new infrastructure at the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit.
Just hours before the first practice run was set to begin, Mexico City officials were still busy fixing up the areas adjacent to the circuit, which are in stark contrast to the poorer neighborhoods surrounding it. Workers have repaved the streets near the circuit and remodeled nearby subway stations.
Workers have repaved the streets near the circuit and remodeled nearby subway stations
The Mexican government announced just over a year ago that, along with a group of businessmen, it would be investing around $360 million to bring Formula 1 back to Mexico. The last time an F1 race was held there was in 1992.
Work on the circuit and improvements began at the beginning of this year with German track engineer Hermann Tilke in charge of the project.
His team, which has previously built F1 circuits in Malaysia, Abu Dhabi and Austin, Texas, worked round the clock to remodel the track to try to reduce the risks on certain corners and increase spectator capacity to 75,000.
“There is a big concert stadium, and we’ll lead the cars through the stadium,” he told Motorsport.com. “Of course it’s slow, but it’s for the spectators, and there will be action there.”
With the help of Mexico’s Inter-American Entertainment Corporation (CIE), officials have convinced F1 president Bernie Ecclestone to hold five more F1 races in the country.
Authorities believe that the project will generate up to $2.2 billion in revenue until 2020 and create around 18,000 direct and indirect jobs. But these figures are seen as optimistic by some observers, who believe they may have to be recalculated in the medium term.
Around 550 million people around the world are expected to tune in to watch the Mexican Grand Prix this weekend on television. Six out of 10 hotel stays in the capital will be connected to the race.
But Mexico City – the largest metropolitan area in the country – is well-equipped to handle so many F1 fans.
English version by Martin Delfín.