BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Mexico will definitely be ready to host a Formula One grand prix next year after resolving the problems that prevented the country’s return this season, Force India driver Sergio Perez said on Thursday.
“It’s 100 percent sure that we will go to Mexico next year. No doubt about it, everything is confirmed,” the Mexican told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“Last year was...a very difficult situation due to the time we had to build the circuit (for 2014) but now there is no doubt...they already started to work on the circuit so we are definitely going there.”
Mexico last hosted Formula One in 1992, when Britain’s Nigel Mansell won, at Mexico City’s Hermanos Rodriguez circuit and a race was provisionally included on the 2014 calendar as the penultimate round.
However, it was then dropped in December with local organizers needing more time to resolve financing issues and rebuild the historic venue.
Those obstacles appear to have been overcome now with events company CIE announcing this week that it had signed a five-year contract with Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
“I‘m happy to announce we’ve concluded an agreement to have a race in 2015,” Ecclestone also told the official formula1.com website. “Don’t miss this race.”
CIE said the deal was still subject to final negotiations but the company would invest $50 million to complete the necessary upgrades to the facility.
Perez, one of two Mexican drivers currently on the starting grid, and by far the more successful, said he was delighted at the prospect of racing at home for the first time since he moved to Europe to further his racing career.
“I‘m so happy. Since I left my home at 13 or 14 years I never raced in Mexico. I never raced in my home country. Now to go back after so many years and race actually in Formula One will be great,” he said.
”They’ve been really pushing for so many years, since I came to Formula One four years ago. The spirit of the fans is massive back home. So it’s great for my country...I‘m sure you will all be surprised how good the event will be.
“I‘m sure it will become a very popular grand prix.”
The other Mexican F1 driver, Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, has raced at home before - in 2008 when the junior Formula BMW series had its world final in Mexico City.
“It was a great experience...an introduction to what it can be. Obviously very, very small by comparison but now we will be able... to really share with our fans physically the sport,” he said.
No date has been set yet for the race, although it is likely to be toward the end of the year to link up with the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, and allow as much time as possible for work on the circuit.
Editing by Tony Goodson