Tourist train project could derail Mexican Grand Prix future

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

With a new Grand Prix contract deadline approaching, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday raised the possibility that Formula 1 races will not be held in the country from 2020 if they require resources from the federal government.

Mexico signed a contract in 2014 for five races with the automobile championship, requiring millions of pesos in investment each year. The deadline for a contract renewal to host the sporting event from 2020 onward is 28 February.

“I am a bit cheap in these cases,” Lopez Obrador told reporters, adding that funds previously used to finance Formula 1 were now reserved for a tourist train his government plans to build in the south of the country.

The Mexican government would have to pay $45 million per year for the Formula One contract in the country, a tourism ministry official said earlier this year.

Last year, the title-decider at Mexico City´s Hermanos Rodriguez circuit drew a sell-out crowd of 135,407 with a three-day attendance of 334,946 – only slightly less than the season´s best British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Race promoter CIE says the race generated an economic impact for Mexico of $1.3 billion and created 31,600 jobs in the first three years.

Lopez Obrador said last week that work would shortly begin on the Maya Train, a dual tourist and freight rail project that is expected to cross five southern Mexican states.

The new administration, which took office on Dec. 1, has touted the plan to encourage development in the poor south of the country.

In the 2019 budget, $313 million were allocated for the rail project. The president has said that the project could cost an additional $7.83 billion.