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Tavo: Mexican driver could mean 20,000 fans
The announcement that Mexican driver Sergio Perez (pictured) would be getting a ride in Formula One next year. With an eye toward 2012, when Austin is slated to host its first Grand Prix, Hellmund said, “I think it will mean 20,000 fans for sure. I think it’s really going to create a lot of interest.”

Hellmund said the best thing for an F1 race here would be to have a Texan driving. But there are no U.S. drivers or teams currently in F1. Mexico hasn’t had a driver since Hector Rebaque in 1981. Mexico, however, does have a history of F1 racing. Hellmund’s father, Gustavo, helped to bring the sport back there in 1986 and it remained in Mexico through 1992.

Perez, 20, will be driving for Sauber, joining Kamui Kobayashi.

“I’m really excited for Sergio,” Hellmund said. “I’ve talked with him and he is over the moon.”

Recently, Sauber has had trouble attracting sponsors. Their cars looked like blank canvases compared to some of the ad-splattered F1 cars.

Sauber, however, has recently partnered with Telmex, the giant Mexican communications company owned by perhaps the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim Helu. His son and Telmex chairman, Carlos Slim Domit, pioneered a program for developing young Mexican racing talent, Escuderia Telmex.

“Now, he’s got a kid at the highest level of racing,” Hellmund said.

Hellmund said an Austin race would be like a home Grand Prix for Perez.

“It’s a huge opportunity for all of us. It’s really nothing but good things,” Hellmund said.

There have been some rumors on the web that Carlos Slim and son are interested in owning an F1 team. Hellmund, a family friend, expects their association to remain a sponsorship.

“They are really focused on their core businesses,” Hellmund said.  The Statesman

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