Formula 1 could be racing in Cancun by 2024
Someone with a familiar name is at the head of the project, too...
Mexico, specifically Mexico City, is somewhere Formula 1's been going to for some decades now. Whilst the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is more than good enough to host a Grand Prix, there are some people in Mexico who want Formula 1 to potentially look elsewhere in the country as well. One of those people is Antonio Perez Garibay, a federal-level politician in Mexico with links to the incredibly wealthy Slim family. If that name seems familiar to you, that's because Antonio Perez Garibay is the father of Slim family-backed Red Bull driver Sergio "checo" Perez! He's been spearheading a project to bring a Grand Prix to the popular tourist destination of Cancun and, if he's to be believed, the talks are going well!
The Drive has reported that Perez Garibay had been speaking to top people linked to the sport at the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend. He already dropped a hint a few days back by posting a picture of himself with FIA President Jean Todt on social media captioned "BUENAS NOTICIAS PARA MEXICO CANCÚN 2024" ("GOOD NEWS FOR MEXICO CANCÚN 2024"). Now he's explained his plans in more detail to the Mexican newspaper Reforma.
"It’s a new project and we would be starting from scratch," Perez Garibay explained to Reforma "We’re just starting out with commitment letters, but we were very well received by Jean Todt and Stefano Domenicali. We’re going to start developing this, and they (Todt, Domenicalli) said that maybe for 2024 when Checo is a world champion." He further argued that a race in Cancun will help "reactivate the economy" after the heavy impact of COVID-19 on the country and that "big, international projects like this one (Cancun F1) are needed in Mexico." (quotes translated from Spanish by The Drive's Jerry Perez)
Could it happen? Quite possibly. As a federal politician in Mexico, Perez Garibay does have a lot of good connections. Those connections include Mexico's current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Having such close ties to the current leader of Mexico would definitely help him to pull a few strings behind the scenes to get something like this together. His connections to the Slim family would no doubt help him out a lot too. Having a race in Cancun would also fit into Liberty Media's long-term plans to include more "destination races" in F1 that are centered around popular tourist destinations. This would lump Cancun in with races such as Singapore, which has been a staple for over a decade, and Miami, which will be on the calendar from next year.
If it does happen, the race will run in addition to the current race in Mexico City, which is confirmed until at least 2022. This would mean that Mexico would have two races in the F1 calendar, like the US will from next year. What kind of form the track would take is unclear at the moment, as Cancun has no prior history of motorsport (except for a short-lived bid to host a Grand Prix back in 2006). However, as developments for Jeddah this year and Miami next year have shown us, it wouldn't be too difficult for Formula 1 to come up with some kind of street circuit that would work within the local area.
At the end of the day, whether a race like this happens or not will come down to political will. Whilst there may be a Mexican driver in a top team right now, that may not be the case come 2024. That's without even taking Perez Garibay's prophecy that his son will become a world champion by this time into account! Whilst it may all seem pretty fantastical at the moment, it's well worth being reminded of the old saying that anything can happen in Formula 1 and it usually does. With a sport that can be as crazy and dramatic as this season has already shown it can be, I personally wouldn't rule out the possibility that Cancun could get a spot on the calendar of one of the world's top-tier motorsports.