Oct.30 (GMM) Mexican GP promoter Federico Gonzalez admits the race may suffer a blow once Sergio Perez is no longer on the grid.
Currently, 33-year-old Guadalajara-born Perez drives for F1’s top team Red Bull – who is supported so ardently by the crowd that a violent fight actually broke out in the grandstands on Sunday between a fan wearing Sergio’s special Mexican GP team shirt and a Ferrari-clad fan.
Max Verstappen was supported by two bodyguards throughout the weekend, and race boss Gonzalaz admits the ‘Racespect’ campaign was all about calming the partisan Mexican fans.
“Max is Checo’s partner, things can go a little out of bounds, so we wanted to keep the battle on the track. That’s where the idea of this campaign came from.
“New people are coming to the F1 circuits, perhaps from other sports, and we have to explain to them that this (F1) is different.”
Ultimately, it was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who was booed by the Mexican fans following his lap 1 crash that ended Perez’s race.
“A lot of booing. A lot of booing,” the rattled Monegasque told the crowd after the chequered flag. “Guys. Honestly, I had nowhere to go.”
Mexican GP boss Gonzalez said his compatriots are simply “passionate”.
“Mexicans are passionate about their colours, about love, about food, about many things. But booing is not appropriate and we don’t want to see it,” he is quoted by AS newspaper.
But with Perez’s 2024 Red Bull contract still the subject of speculation and uncertainty, Gonzalez admits that the Mexican GP will one day have to stand on its own two feet.
He said tickets for this weekend’s race sold out a year ago “within a few hours of going on sale”.
“It was 30 percent people from Mexico City, 30 percent the rest of the country, 30 percent international,” said the race boss. “And the international is usually the United States, Canada, Central America and South America.”
Losing Perez could therefore be a huge blow to the event.
“Our goal is to work on the experience,” said Gonzalez. “There are many supporters of Checo but also followers of Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, other teams.”
He said losing Perez “may decrease our sales, but we know that will happen one day”.
“We want Checo to be around for many years, but we know that one day it won’t be like that.”
In preparation, he said he seeks to learn from what nearby grand prix organisers are up to.
“I went to Miami, I went to Austin, and I will go to Las Vegas,” said Gonzalez. “They are competition, so I have to see what they are doing because I don’t want to be left behind.
“From there we can introduce changes. For example, Miami nailed it this year in their second edition. It is now a strong and competitive weekend, but I think we are still ahead of them in that our price is much more competitive.”