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GP Week : Issue 158
Nigel Mansell's Williams FW14 leads the field at the start of the 1991 Mexican Grand Prix. Carlos Slim Jr. Mexican companies have shown willing where the government had not, Mexican GP2 racer Esteban Gutierrez explained in Monaco. “From the government point of view there has never been major support [for aspiring racers],” Gutierrez said. “In my career I started out with private funding, later in my career I started to have sponsors, particularly [Carlos Slim Jr.’s] Telmex, which has been a big support. There are also my personal sponsors; most of them are Mexican companies. Considering that these companies are from Mexico, to receive their support in every way as a Mexican – this is something very positive.” With serious efforts now under way to bring Formula One back to Mexico, it is to be hoped that the third time really is the charm. On paper, it certainly looks as though all the stars are aligned: the country has a successful local driver to support, in the form of Sergio Perez, and another strong contender on his way up through the ranks –Gutierrez. The idea has the backing of both Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA. And the money’s there, to a certain extent. “Every time I go to Mexico now I am quite popular – it’s great to have so much support from the fans,” Perez said in Montreal, fresh from a brief visit home. “I do a lot of publicity with Telmex – commercials, promotions, personal sponsors. We do a lot for the sport, but the best I can do is to perform well on track and give the fans something to be excited about.” Frequent attempts have been made to revive the Mexican Grand Prix since 1992. So why should this time be any different? Strengthening the Mexican argument this time around is the increasing level of sponsorship coming from that country. Currently concentrated around the Sauber team for obvious reasons, an awful lot of Mexican money is flowing into the sport, and the big names want a big return on their investment. The heaviest hitter by far is Carlos Slim Jr., owner of Telmex and passionate supporter of Mexican motorsport. Both Perez and Gutierrez have received considerable financial backing from Slim over the years, and during the Barcelona Grand Prix weekend he sat down with GP WEEK to discuss Mexico’s increasing involvement in the world of Formula One. “I think Mexico is in a very good place to be potentially working on bringing a grand prix,” Slim said. “There are some very strong promoters working on that, and I believe there are some very strong reasons to make it happen. One of the most important is that we have a Mexican driver, we have somebody the people can get behind and follow. That is already there – Sergio is having a very good season, and we hope to see Esteban in F1 soon.” Slim confirmed that a concerted effort was being made to bring Formula One to Mexico: “There is work being done on the track, discussions with local and federal government, and a formal presentation [for FOM] is being put together by the organisers,” he said. “The promoters are working hard, and I believe that someday soon we will have a race in Mexico. “More races in the Americas is not just good for the global fan community – it is good for Formula One,” Slim concluded. “It’s the way to keep consolidating a global sport, and I think that’s important for Formula One.” 33 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> FEATURE