Mexico City Gears Up For Return Of Formula 1 With Sellout Crowd

Organizers in Mexico City are putting on the finishing touches ahead of this weekend's F1 Grand Prix. The racing series will return to the Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez for the first time since '92. "The track is ready," said Rodrigo Sanchez, director of marketing and media relations at the Mexican F1 Grand Prix.

"We are finalizing the setup for the weekend to open the gates [on Friday]." F1's return to the Mexican capital will take place in front of a sellout crowd. The remodeled circuit will offer grandstand seating for around 110,000 fans, along with more than 30,000 general admission tickets. "There might be a ticket here and there, but we are basically sold out," Sanchez said.

The unprecedented ticket demand forced organizers to increase capacity and has shown the country's desire for the sport. It has also boosted the confidence of race promoter CIE, which signed a five-year deal with Formula One Management to stage the event. Ticket sales is the main revenue stream for organizers, Sanchez said.

"It's the one right that we can fully exploit within Formula 1," he said. "Everything else we have to negotiate with F1. In order to be successful with the grand prix you need to make sure your ticket sale strategy is set." The annual hosting fee for the race is estimated at $30M. Ticket prices for the 17th round of the season range from $115-$1,725.

BUSINESS SUPPORT: CIE has signed six local sponsorship deals for the event. It agreed to deals with Banamex, Santander, Telcel, Coca-Cola, Johnny Walker/Diageo and Grupo Modelo's Corona brand. Sanchez declined to provide any financial numbers, but he said the six companies "are in on a five-year commitment."

The three beverage companies will set up bars, restaurants and beer gardens inside the facility. Financial institutes Banamex and Santander provided exclusive pre-sale offers and six-month, interest-free payment deferment options for their respective card holders. Mobile phone provider Telcel will provide free charging stations as well as improved connectivity at the track.

As the third largest event promoter in the world, according to Sanchez, CIE negotiated all deals in-house. He added that each of the six partners has helped organizers in the planning and execution of the event. In addition to the six brands, F1's global partners such as Emirates, Rolex and UBS will be visible at the circuit.

OFF-TRACK ENTERTAINMENT: Sanchez, who previously worked at the Circuit of the Americas, said similar to the Fan Fest in Austin, Texas, there will be an F1 Fan Zone in Mexico City. The event will be staged at Chapultepec Park and features live entertainment, sponsorship activations as well as live coverage of the action on the track.

Tickets to access the F1 Fan Zone will range between 100-200 pesos ($6-$12). Organizers will also close off a number of streets in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City. Mexican F1 driver Sergio Perez (Force India) and Ferrari reserve driver Esteban Gutiérrez will also play an integral role in the organizer's efforts, in the form of autograph sessions and appearances.

Carlos Slim Domit, the son of the world's second richest man Carlos Slim Helu, has been a long-time sponsor of both drivers through his companies. U.S. based team Haas F1, which will join the series next year, is expected to announce Gutierrez as its second driver this weekend. Team Owner Geen Haas told Sky Sports that there would be an announcement in Mexico City on Friday. However, Sanchez said that organizers are currently not working with Haas F1 to coordinate the expected announcement. HJ Mai/

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