Watching the Mexican GP at the Foro Sol

From The Stands

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Mexico’s Foro Sol stadium was an immediate hit when F1 returned to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez last weekend.

What was it like to watch a grand prix in a football atmosphere? F1 Fanatic reader Steve Smith was there.

We used the holiday resort of Cancun as the base for our Mexican Grand Prix trip, spending around £100 on return flights to Mexico City in order to visit the track which is very close to the airport.

The enjoyment of race weekend started at Cancun airport when a young lad started talking to us asking about where we were going. He was a Mexican F1 fan, but couldn’t afford to go – a £450 race ticket being about a month’s wage for him. He was so excited when shown our race tickets that he asked if he could take photographs to put on his social media accounts. When I gave him my unused Friday ticket as a souvenir it was almost like he had won the lottery: It really meant something for him to have a ticket for his country’s race.

Classic F1 cars were on the support bill
We arrived in Mexico City to a wet Friday night and took an interesting taxi ride to the Marriott Reforma hotel through horrendous traffic. Saturday morning dawned bright. A five minute walk through a pedestrian area took us to Insurgentes Metro Station, and, after three stops on one Metro line, and eight on another, we got off at Station Velodromo from where the circuit entrance gates were less than a kilometre’s walk away. The place was buzzing already.

From the outside of the Arena we could tell it was going to be good. But to get inside and find that our seats were in the very top row was brilliant, even if climbing up to them in the already-high altitude was genuinely difficult. But the results were worth it: out view also overlooked the Paddock Club and the spectacular podium.

After watching most of Saturday’s action, we left around 4.30 for the half hour trip back to our hotel looking forward to the next day. Showing how strong the local appetite for F1 is, the official merchandise had already sold out of every single item for the entire weekend. I was glad I bought my polo shirt and cap early.

The rain which some forecasts predicted would arrive at lunch time on Sunday never arrived. We didn’t see a great F1 race but the drivers parade and the atmosphere were quite simply the best I have experienced in my 59 visits to grands prix around the world.

The fans went Checo-crazy
It was unbelievable when Sergio Perez stopped and went to meet the crowd. Taking selfies, throwing dozens of caps into the crowd, and giving interviews. The noise was just crazy, the stadium actually trembled. It was mad.

We had fixed a Union Jack to the back of the grandstand, and had requests for photographs from many Mexicans. Some wanting us in the photo, some not. We obliged each time whatever way. They were all so friendly.

The only overtaking action we saw in front of us during the race was provided on both occasions by Perez who gained two places in the stadium. The reaction each time was immense. The other highlights of the race which unfolded in front of us included Sebastian Vettel’s punctured tyre parting company with his car, and Felipe Nasr parking up with smouldering brakes.

Walking around the parkland track wasn’t possible as it is right in the middle of a built up industrial area, with highways and factories surrounding it. A six-lane highway ran right behind the stands we sat in, above the famous Peradalta corner. The grandstands we saw each had their own individual entrance off the street unlike, say, Silverstone where any entrance can be used wherever you are seated.

Given what little action there was anywhere on the circuit, I would say that the stadium complex is a pretty good place to sit purely for the atmosphere, and not just for the eight to ten seconds a lap that you get to see the cars take on what must be one of the slowest corners of the season after Loews at Monaco and La Source at Spa.

Mexico’s special podium scene
Plus, of course, you get to see the podium ceremony from fairly close up. Though there were crowd issues for that with people from some stands being denied access to the track when others were allowed. That did cause problems with crowd control, and we saw some fans literally rip the catch fencing from its fixings to allow them onto the track.

We could see three giant screens from our stand. But they were not as giant as they perhaps could have been. Reading the graphics on them being impossible from my seat. It is something they could improve upon.

At the end of the race, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas parked up just where Nasr had span, and their cars were quickly pushed away for inspection. Then the gas cannons went off, filling the sky with red, white and green confetti for probably a couple of minutes as the drivers made their way up the stairs for the podium ceremony and their interview with Nigel Mansell.

We stayed around for an hour post-race, taking many more photographs with jubilant local and listening to the Mariarchi bands. We then headed back to Cancun where we still had six days of holidaying to enjoy.

I would encourage anyone considering a trip to Mexico for their grand prix, to go and enjoy it. The fans made it for me. They were so welcoming to race goers who had made the effort to travel to their party race.

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    28 comments on “Watching the Mexican GP at the Foro Sol”

    1. £450 race ticket

      *head explodes*

      1. @raceprouk 346 euro for my ticket Silverstone Stowe, 364 for my ticket South in Abu Dhabi end this month. Does not include camping or hotel or flight. Most new/mordern tracks don’t offer proper viewing points from general admission. At Spa for example I wouldn’t bother buying grandstand tickets as general admission is just fine.

        1. It’s not just that though, it’s the fact that £450 is a full month’s wages for the local fans, who it seems are literally being priced out of the market. With that sort of price, I’m surprised the place was even half-full, let alone sold out.

          1. The young lad was perhaps not earning great money as a “customer questionnaire person” at Cancun Airport. That’s maybe why he was so delighted when I gave him my Friday ticket. But I do see your point.

            The demand for tickets however was still very high on both of the days I went to the circuit if the number of scalpers / touts was anything to go by. Though I didn’t see anyone selling to them.

          2. Yeah you’re right, but even if only the top 5-3% can afford it, in a city of 20 million that’s still a lot of people.

          3. petebaldwin (@)
            9th November 2015, 20:29

            @raceprouk – So you’re saying they can’t afford a Rolex then? NOT WELCOME!

          4. Yeah, but also other fans. That would be R9500.00 for me! (No, I can’t afford a Rolex, nor do I want to ever get one) Which is nearly my month’s salary! Even Monza was cheaper.

    2. Lovely to read another passionate fan his trip to a GP. Surely this could become a thing every race? I doubt F1Fanatic isn’t represented at any race.

      1. Excellent idea.

    3. Thanks for that. Nice to hear a genuine fan report on what I found to be one of the better races this year.
      Sounds like it’s a race I need to add to my bucket list.

    4. I agree with Lauda when he says this should be the level atmosphere all circuits are now held to. At least if you are going to put rather boring layouts on the ground, create unique situations around it. I’m actually a fan of Yas Marina because of the way it looks under lights with the hotel and all.
      The Kyalami circuit would probably be a shadow of the challenge it once was, but I almost reckon the turnout with be similar to Mexico if they did it properly. Furthermore it gives excellent highlights coverage for the mainstream news services.
      Great report here.

      1. An (South) African Grand Prix would make sense in a world championship. Kyalami has been modernized. Don’t know if they or Bernie had to intention to host a GP there…

      2. I’m actually a fan of Yas Marina because of the way it looks under lights with the hotel and all.

        Likewise, I’m a fan of Yas Marina. The track isn’t the most popular but it’s always a top F1 event. I would rather Brazil host the season finales but Yas Marina would be my second choice. The sun setting on the race is a good representation of the season coming to an close.

        1. @deej92 Yas Marina? Umm, yeah, it’s like the Mexico GP but without the crowd…

          1. It loses the massive crowd but replaces it with state of the art facilities and architecture. Still nice to watch.
            I agree with you though! About how the twilight provides a nice metaphor for the closing of the season. Together with Brazil as the final two races it’s a perfect blend of history and a progressive view forward.

    5. “Classic F1 cars were on the support bill”

      I’ve seen this happen at many, many GPs but no broadcasters ever seem to show it. I know it’s usually just a procession and not a race but why aren’t FOM providing the footage? It’d still be cool to see.

      1. With the notable exception of the first two cars, who “raced” liked Rosberg and Hamilton did. The Historics produced two pretty boring processions. I think first and last quailified with a 26 second difference between them! Even Manor do better than that.

      2. The biggest thing with the historic cars is that they are historic. They don’t really “race” so it’s mostly a procession around the track. In Austin, they ran the entire “race” in the rain behind the pace car.

        1. @ragwort I’d personally still rather watch that than the Sky pundits waffling on for an hour.

    6. Paul Rodríguez
      9th November 2015, 15:21

      As an F1 fan and as a Mexican, I really enjoyed reading about your experience in México. Of course I also attended the race and enjoyed it just as much, but to hear (or read) it from the outside is another story. Next time around try to stay in México City for a few days, I guarantee you will have a great time. Of course, the traffic is absurd, but once you’re past it, you will have a blast!

    7. I met a Mexican family at the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix. There was a young boy, probably eight years old. He was a big Jenson Button fan and applauded every time the Briton passed our grandstands at the Bus Stop chicane. They certainly had chosen the right venue at the right time as Button was untouchable on that weekend.

      His father and grandfather were also there; the father yelled ‘Checo!’ and something else in Spanish to let Perez know that his compatriots were there to support him as he went by during the drivers’ parade. We also had a little chat as they wanted to know if I was from Finland, given that I was wearing a Kovalainen cap.

      They seemed to be very intelligent and passionate about the sport at the same time and they had traveled to Europe to visit a race. I am glad that they have their own Grand Prix now, they definitely deserve it.

    8. I was there on sunday, went with a friend:

      I’m a local, the neighborhood of the circuit (Magdalena Mixhuca) is where I lived and grew up, we’ve been in the track countless times on skates, bycicles. But this was my first proper GP (last times we went but stayed off the track on grass, looking from the distance.

      So, with the beers at 7usd we decided we were having none of it. We called a small convenience store owner a few blocks away and ordered a couple of six packs. We went to the fence, carefully selected a place between cops (one every 10m) and received precious beers, at 1.7usd each.

      We were on the last slow corners before the esses, saw Kimi crash into Bottas, Sainz go off track and not much more. The crowd was great!


    10. As a local, I am proud to hear all these opinions.

      This is México!!! not what the alarming news present you about war and terror.

      1. I tried go give my honest report Amin. I’m glad you like it.

    11. Scott Berisford
      6th September 2016, 20:58

      Hello, myself and a mate are travelling to both the US and Mexican GPs in 2016 and we are staying in Condesa for around 6 days and sitting in Grandstand 7 for the Mexico one. Can anyone advise how to get to the circuit from our hotel in Condesa please ? It looks on the map as though the nearest Metro Station to our hotel is Patriotismo on Line 9 Brown if that helps ? I hope someone can give me some advice on the best way to travel each day. Thanks in advance 👍

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