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SBD Global/February 26, 2013/Events and Attractions

Bernie Ecclestone Confirms Mexican GP Talks; Female F1 Driver Still Not In Sight

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "has confirmed that he is in talks about holding a Grand Prix in Mexico City" in '14, according to Christian Sylt of AUTOWEEK. The race "would take place at Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez, which last hosted an F1 race in 1992 and needs a multi-million dollar upgrade in order to do so again." The Mexican Grand Prix "was expected to return to the F1 calendar" in '06. It did not take place and, since then, there "have been widespread rumors about when and where it would return." Ecclestone "has stayed quiet about the rumors but has now revealed that Mexico City is in pole position to become the new home of the Mexican Grand Prix." Ecclestone said, "Mexico City is a better place to hold the race than Cancun. In more or less any city around the world you could ask people 'where is Mexico City?' and they would say Mexico. If you said to somebody where is Cancun they would say 'I don’t know.'" The Mexico City project has a true "dream team" behind it. It appears the three key players are Alejandro Soberon, Tavo Hellmund and Carlos Slim Domit. Soberon is the CEO of CIE and Hellmund is well-known in F1 circles for "being the creator and mastermind of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, which last year hosted the U.S. Grand Prix after a five year hiatus." Slim Domit is the son of the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, and "bankrolled both" McLaren driver Sergio Perez and Sauber pilot Esteban Gutierrez for many years to get them into F1. Ecclestone claimed that despite his connection to racing, Carlos Slim, who is worth an estimated $72B, "will not bankroll the Mexican Grand Prix." He said, "Everybody thinks that Carlos Slim is going to pay the bills for the race, but I know he’s not" (AUTOWEEK, 2/24).

FEMALE DRIVER IN F1?: PLANET F1 reported Williams test driver Susie Wolff said that Ecclestone is reportedly "determined to see a female driver compete in Formula One." Wolff "entered F1 last season with Williams but has yet to pit herself against F1's male drivers as her efforts have been kept to aerodynamic tests and one day at Silverstone" in October. The Scot, though, "is determined to secure her superlicense this year" and take another step toward the F1 grid. And she reckons that "the powers-that-be are keen to see a female in the sport" (PLANET F1, 2/25). In London, Kevin Eason wrote NASCAR driver Danica Patrick’s achievement of the past week at the Daytona 500 "is either the breakthrough for women in motor racing or the high water mark. Which is it?" There have been plenty of optimistic noises about the rise of women to the front rank of the sport. Wolff said that Ecclestone "was massively pushing" for a women in F1. He will need "a lot of shoulder power." The sad but ultimate fact of motor racing is that "there are no women to push." Patrick is it and the chances of her getting into F1 "range from remote to non-existent -- unless, of course, a combination of powerful sponsors and some leg work from Bernie push her into a seat in one of the middling teams." The objections "are not to Patrick, the woman driver, but to Patrick, the driver from" the U.S. IndyCar -- and certainly NASCAR -- "has long been considered massively inferior to Formula One, which is why team principals will not touch drivers from over there with a barge pole, or probably some sort of high-tech piece of carbon fibre" (LONDON TIMES, 2/25).
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