Mexican Grand Prix officials say there is no concern over the status of this year’s race, which they now believe has added importance after the devastating earthquake that hit the capital this week.
Over 200 people have been killed since the 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit central Mexico and its capital Mexico City on Tuesday. The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, set to host the Mexican Grand Prix on October 29, did not sustain any damage.
Race organisers and employees have been focused on helping with the relief effort in any way possible.
When asked if there was a chance of the race schedule being affected by the disaster, Mexican GP director of marketing Rodrigo Sanchez told reporters: “I don’t think so. If things stay the same, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing, keep helping. The track is fine and we just need to refocus and get the show done.
“It’s a relatively new circuit. In Mexico all the new structures are built with that purpose because the chances [of an earthquake] are very high. It’s been inspected twice already, from the track surface and also the buildings, and it’s OK. So we’ll continue doing the assessments as we go but so far there’s really no concern, we’ll have a race.”
F1 driver Sergio Perez — the face of the Mexican Grand Prix and one of the nation’s biggest sporting icons — has already started a fundraising effort for those affected by the disaster.
With the race set to be the first high-profile sporting event in the capital city since the earthquake, organisers are determined to put on the show — which last year attracted nearly 340,000 spectators across the weekend — as normal as a sign of Mexican solidarity in the face of crisis.
“The Mexican people, in times like this, we bring ourselves together and we know how to move on,” Sanchez added. “It’s important to show our unity, not only amongst ourselves but to the world. So in that aspect I think we’re fine.”
“Its times [like this] where you get to sit down and see what all of us are capable of doing. We need to remain together in the bad and the good, not only in the bad. That’s a powerful message and something we need to show and I think Mexicans are a good example of that, their pride and their energy.
“The same pride you usually see in the grandstands we are seeing in the devastation zones right now, everyone is not even sleeping, people are staying overnight just to get people out of buildings.”
Sanchez said the immediate response to the disaster shows why the priority has to be getting Mexico City back to functioning as normal.
“Right now we are working with the federal government, who declared Mexico City as a national crisis, which allows them to put federal resources — the army, the navy, the airforce — to us. We need to get back into place quickly.
“A good example is there was some damage to the airport, and it was shut down from the morning until midday. By 8pm it was already open, we were sending flights out and receiving flights in. Now the concern is to getting things moving again from a city perspective, that’s where we’re at.”
The circuit is a long way removed from the worst-affected areas and as such is not being used as a shelter for those affected at the present time.
The 2017 race was initially set to build on the theme of the country’s Day of the Dead festival, which occurs the following week, but Sanchez says there has not yet been time to consider whether that will change given this week’s events.