Analysis: What the Mexican GP really brought to a nation

After rave reviews following its return to the F1 calendar last year, the Mexican GP promoter tells Motorsport.com’s Editor in Chief Charles Bradley what it meant financially to the nation.

The economics of staging a world-class sporting event, such as a Formula 1 Grand Prix, is pretty astronomical. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are required to be pumped in, but the benefits – apart from the spectacle of some cars racing around a track – can be difficult to appreciate at first.

Last year Mexico was added to the F1 calendar following a huge push from many big players in the region, not least Carlos Slim Domit – a huge patron of the sport. He’s a super-smart guy, and could see the big picture of the benefits, despite the huge outlay.

Last week, the results of the economic impact of the event were released – and the numbers make interesting reading.

Over 300,000 attendees, a $232million contribution to the economy, plus $277million global media exposure, equalling a $510million economic impact. Then there was the reconstruction of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez itself, a one-off $242million project which is now there for the benefit of other events, such as the FIA’s World Endurance Championship and Formula E too. 

The Mexican flag in the main grandstand
The Mexican flag in the main grandstand

Photo by: XPB Images

The promoter’s view

Alejandro Soberon, the President and CEO of event promoters CIE, gave Motorsport.com an exclusive insight into the findings of the report.

“All the results of the economical impact in Mexico that we received from two agencies were very consistent, so we’re very happy with the effect that it has had for the country,” he said.

“It’s very important with a private and public collaboration, when you’re dealing with an event of this size, to keep your eye on the fundamental impact. More than that business and economics of the race itself, what it really brings is added value for the country.

“We all agreed an ambition of an average of $400million benefit in Mexico, for each race. We’re very happy that the figure for the first year was above $750million [in total].

“Of course, that involves the remodelling of the circuit – a one-time cost of $240million – but even excluding that, we add well over $500million per year for the Mexican economy, which is great.” 

Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
Sergio Perez, 2016 Mexican Grand Prix

Photo by: XPB Images

Building on a strong base

After all the hard work, and a successful execution of the race weekend, the plaudits rained down. Niki Lauda hailed it as “unbelievable” and even Bernie Ecclestone told European promoters to “come to Mexico and see how it should be done”.

“It was very strong for us, wonderful to see and hear the approval of what we had done,” added Soberon. “It was a very tough year, we had to rebuild the track and do all the construction work – at the same time create the business model – we had 13,000 people working.

“That included 6,000 who were temporary workers, so we had to get them up to the right level of service. It was challenging, but we were very proud that Mexico was about to surprise the world.”

Race action
2016 Mexican Grand Prix ace action

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The future

As reported on Motorsport.com, extra capacity could be added this year as the demand for tickets appears as strong as Year 1. And if it can deliver again this season, it opens the door to a long-term – rather than medium-term – future for the event.

“There’s a business plan for five years – that was the commitment between all the parties,” he added. “We need to prove that we can deliver the first two grands prix, looking at the results and the experience, before we can consider to expand the contract in the longer term.

“Many corporate sponsors are interested and are going to build conventions around the Mexican Grand Prix. We are just fine-tuning today, and we’re very optimistic as we’ll have two Mexican drivers – the addition of Esteban [Gutierrez] is a bonus for the Grand Prix.”

And for the regular local fans?

He added: “We have a system in which we give a benefit for the ‘early birds’ to pay in instalments over six months, interest free, rather than one payment. It’s a great incentive for pre-sales.

“So far, everything looks fine, just great. The profile of the event has created a lot of awareness, and we truly believe that the concept of the race in Mexico was a winner – such as integrating the stadium into the fan experience, that worked out very well.”

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Mexican GP
Track Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
Article type Special feature