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Mexican Grand Prix "validates" driver investment by world's richest man

NEWS STORY
09/11/2015

Tavo Hellmund, the entrepreneur who helped bring Formula One back to Mexico after a 23-year break, says its Grand Prix validates the support that billionaire Carlos Slim junior has given to racers from the country such as Force India's Sergio Perez and incoming Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez.

Slim's father is worth $61.7bn according to Forbes magazine and has become the world's richest man through a diverse range of investments including Mexican telecoms operator Telmex. His son is a big backer of motorsport and has supported the careers of Perez and Gutierrez from an early age.

"They were all part of Carlos' Telmex academy that he has been doing for more than 10 years where he spots young drivers. Both Perez and Gutierrez have come up through that. More so Perez than Gutierrez. Perez since he was in karting," Hellmund told Christian Sylt.

"It validates everything that Carlos did, and the amount of money he spent on many drivers to race internationally, now that there is a Grand Prix in Mexico and there happens to be a Mexican driver and another one who will have a ride next year as well. Carlos has yet again proven that besides being one of the nicest people in the world, his ability to invest in something early that eventually pays off is staggering."

The Grand Prix took place last weekend at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and it was the first time F1 had raced there since 1992. The plan to revive it has the backing of an all-star management team which is driven by several key figures.

The first is Hellmund, the creator and mastermind of the US GP and the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. He brought the race in Mexico to F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone and Hellmund says "he trusted my vision which is perhaps what makes me more honoured than anything. Bernie often says that Mexico would not be back on the F1 calendar if it wasn't for me but in fact he has been the real driving force and I have no doubt that this race will do him proud."

Hellmund had to convince Ecclestone that he had the right location and team to pull off the race. His counterpart in Mexico is race promoter Alejandro Soberon, chief executive of the world's third largest live entertainment company CIE. Hellmund says, "for me it was easy to collaborate with Alejandro, as we get on very well and we each knew our roles in the project. He's smart and made sure that everything was executed incredibly well."

The race did them proud as 90,000 fans flocked to the track on Friday, 111,000 on Saturday and 134,850 on Sunday, generating an overall attendance of 335,850. Eye-catching "Back in Mexico" banners were draped all over the circuit and although Perez finished a lowly eighth he lit up the track with the crowd roaring every time he drove by. That if anything shows the real power of the race.

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1. Posted by mickl, 09/11/2015 15:49

"Again, come 5 years time let's see if the attendance is still the same before it can be qualified an outright success. I do hope they are successful though."

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