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Paddock Postcard from Mexico

01 Nov 2015

The first Mexican Grand Prix for 23 years was a huge success, and the paddock teemed with personalities. On the racing side these included circuit ambassador Emerson Fittipaldi and fellow world champion Nigel Mansell, driver steward Mark Blundell, former racers Jorge Koechlin and Hector Rebaque, F1 and Indycar star Juan Pablo Montoya, Bruno Senna and Indycar racer James Jakes.

Other luminaries included Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, race recreator Tavo Hellmund, Carlos Slim Snr and Jnr, FIA president Jean Todt, former Eagle, Tyrrell and McLaren engineer Jo Ramirez, racing entrepreneur and historic race cars expert David McLaughlin, the MSA’s Peter Riches and new F1 entrant Gene Haas.

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was en fete in its dramatic new guise, hosting a welcome party on Thursday complete with mariachi band, and the changes made since 1992 were warmly received.

The sole Mexican driver on the grid, Sergio Perez, was undoubtedly he man most in demand by media and fans. ‘Checo’ was wearing special race overalls for his home event, with a design by Ric Scott from the UK, who won a Force India competition to pen Perez’s look for Mexico. The theme included an Aztec pyramid set against a blazing sunset, and the team also commissioned a unique set of complementary gloves and racing boots.

“I am really happy to be able to wear a suit with such a cool design for my home race,” said Perez, who will formally present one of the suits to the Mexican President in celebration of F1 racing’s return to his country.

“The winning design is perfectly Mexican,” he added. “It celebrates my country’s history and our culture. Racing in my home Grand Prix is a dream come true, something I have only been able to imagine for many years, and to have this special suit is going to make it even more special.”

Watch: Sergio Perez excites the Mexican fans

Mexico City features heavily in the opening scenes of the new James Bond blockbuster, Spectre, which gave Felipe Massa the excuse to turn movie villain for a day in the race build-up when he got behind the wheel of the Williams-developed Jaguar C-X75 sportscar, which features in the film.

Williams Advanced Engineering, the technology and engineering services business of the Williams Group, collaborated with Jaguar Land Rover to design the original C-X75 prototype, and seven new versions were built at the Williams facility for the film.

“It was a thrill to take the wheel of a real stunt car used in a Bond movie,” commented Massa. “It was great to experience some of what my colleagues have developed outside of F1. It was so much fun, and very exciting to be driving the Jaguar on an actual Spectre location here in Mexico City.”

On track, besides the current F1 cars, among the other big attractions were the Masters Historic Racing machines from previous eras. Saturday afternoon’s 10-lap race fell to Ovoro March 761-driving Briton Aaron Scott, who held off Gregory Thornton’s later JPS Lotus 91, which challenged hard on the penultimate lap before falling back with loss of second gear. Simon Fish hung with them to begin with before bringing his Ensign N180 home third.

James Hagan in his Tyrrell 011 fended off racelong attention from Andrew Beaumont’s Lotus 76, while Jean Denis Deletraz (Surtees TS19), Mike Cantillon (Williams FW05) and Max Smith-Hilliard (Williams FW07C) were all in contention in the upper midfield but failed to finish. The Swiss stopped with mechanical problems, while the two Britons collided early on.

Scott won the Fittipaldi class, Thornton the Head, Hagan the Lauda and 14th placed John Delane the Stewart in his Tyrrell 002. Thornton took fastest lap.