October 29, 2018 / 6:55 PM / 21 days ago

Mexican GP waits on new government for contract extension

LONDON (Reuters) - Mexican Grand Prix organisers are confident they have the economic evidence to persuade the country’s new administration to keep the race on the Formula One calendar after the contract expires next year.

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Mexican Grand Prix - Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico - October 28, 2018 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during the race REUTERS/Andres Stapff

Sunday’s title-decider at Mexico City’s Hermanos Rodriguez circuit drew a sell-out crowd of 135,407 with a three-day attendance of 334,946 — only slightly less than the season’s best British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

It also won high praise from Formula One’s managing director for motorsport Ross Brawn.

“The race is an example of what we would like to see everywhere, with the right mix of a great sporting event with various forms of entertainment,” he said on Monday in a review of the weekend.

The grand prix is run by CIE, whose chief executive Alejandro Soberon has collected Formula One’s Race Promoter of the Year award for the past three seasons, with significant state funding.

That is guaranteed for the five-year duration of the contract but any extension depends on the leftist administration of Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who takes office on Dec. 1.

Soberon told Reuters in a telephone interview that continued support was ‘fundamental’.

“This has always been positioned as a country marketing project. This size of project cannot be done otherwise,” he said.

“They (the new administration) are going to evaluate the results of the four races and then make a decision on extension.

“I am very respectful of whatever the new government has to say and make an opinion,” he added when asked if he was confident about the outcome.

“When I see all the data and everything that this race has brought the country, I am very confident that in some fashion we are going to find a way to continue the race.”

Figures provided by CIE stated that the race generated an economic impact for Mexico of $1.3 billion, or 12.2 times the original investment, and created 31,600 jobs in the first three years.

The promoter cited also data from the ministries of Tourism and Interior that showed Mexico climbed from 15th to sixth in the world ranking of most visited countries during the period.

Thirty percent of those attending the race come from overseas. Soberon said global television exposure last year, when Lewis Hamilton won his fourth title, showed a 31 percent increase.

Mercedes driver Hamilton returned on Sunday to take his fifth championship, with Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen winning the race for the second year in a row.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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