MOTOR RACING

Everything you need to know about this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix

With two local drivers lining up and after the huge success of last year, excitement is high

A total of 336,174 people attended the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix.
A total of 336,174 people attended the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix.S. Bautista / EFE

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Mexico is well and truly gearing up for the festival that is the arrival of the Formula 1 circus. There is huge excitement around this weekend’s Grand Prix, after a whopping 336,174 people snapped up tickets to last year’s race – the first in the country in over two decades – making it the most popular fixture on the circuit last year.

With the main race kicking off at 1pm local time on Sunday at the Hermanos Rodríguez Grand Prix circuit, here are five facts everyone should know.

Show me the money

The cheapest tickets are still at 2015 prices and will see spectators forking out around 1,500 Mexican pesos ($80), while the most expensive tickets cost 18,750 pesos, or around $1,000. Both ticket types were sold out almost as soon as they went on sale.

Formula 1 organizers said the fortunes of the peso against the US dollar had not affected ticket prices this year.

Last year total ticket sales came in at more than $50 million according to the Formula 1 travel guide F1 Destinations.

The hawking of tickets is common in Mexico. Last year, touts kept their distance from the circuit but could be seen around subway stations in Mexico city selling tickets for anything between 4,500 pesos ($240) and 120,000 pesos ($6,415).

However, the Mexican government estimates the economic benefits of the race will come in at $2 billion by 2020, with 18,000 direct and indirect jobs created.

Official figures show the average spend per race attendee was $2,000 in 2015.

Need for speed

Organizers of this year’s Mexico Grand Prix are expecting quicker lap times this year with softer tires available for the teams, although they will have to change their strategies from last year given that the rubber will wear out faster.

This could mean someone beating the current race speed record set by UK driver Lewis Hamilton of 362.3km/h while the practice speed record – 366.4km/h set by Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado – is also up for grabs.

Home ground advantage?

Six Mexicans have competed on the Formula 1 circuit. Alongside current racers Esteban Gutiérrez and Sergio Pérez, other important figures include the brothers Ricardo and Pedro Rodríguez, who were key in making the sport popular in Mexico in the 1970s.

Ricardo Rodríguez died on the infamous La Peraltada curve, which is no longer part of the Mexican Grand Prix circuit.

His older brother Pedro competed in Formula 1 from 1963 to 1971, clocking up two victories and seven podium finishes in a career spanning 54 races. He also died while driving, slamming into a wall during a race at Norisring in Nuremberg in July 1971.

Last year total ticket sales for the event raked in more than $50 million

Moisés Solana competed in eight World Championship Grands Prix although he never racked up a single championship point and his best result was a 10th-place finish in 1969. He died during a race at Mexico’s Valle de Bravo.

Héctor Rebaque competed from 1977 to 1981, taking part in 58 races although he only managed 13 points during his career. He did, however, become the first, and, to date, only Mexican to set up his own team – Team Rebaque.

Double trouble

Before Esteban Gutiérrez and Sergio “Checo” Pérez, the last time two Mexican drivers appeared in the same race was in 1968 when Pedro Rodríguez and Moisés Solana faced off against each other.

Gutiérrez doesn’t have a single point to his name this season and has finished 11 on five occasions. Checo Pérez, on the other hand, has managed a podium finish twice, finishing third on both occasions. These results have placed him within the top 10 for the season so far.

Winning teams

Mexico has hosted F1 races during three periods: from 1963 to 1970, from 1986 to 1992 and from 2015 to 2019. Eight teams have shared the spoils.

Lotus took the trophy in 1963, 1967 and 1968, while Williams claimed that honor in 1987, 1991 and 1992. Another five teams have won once each: Brabham-Clímax (1964), Honda (1965), Cooper-Maserati (1966), Benetton-BMW (1986) and Mercedes (2015).

English version by George Mills.

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