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Mexican Grand Prix 2023

How F1 safety fears have limited Mexican GP fan access

Drivers were left complaining about safety fears at last year's Mexican Grand Prix but changes have been made to ensure no such threat returns this season, at the cost of fan access.

Mexico fans 2021
Article
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

F1 and the Mexico City Grand Prix organisers have restricted the number of fans permitted in the paddock for this weekend's event.

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has played host to a festival atmosphere in recent years with fans in loud voice to support home hero Sergio Perez.

Mexico's Día de los Muertos [Day of the Dead] celebration follows the week after which only helps add to the occasion as F1 rocks up for its annual showpiece.

But trouble last year has led to restrictions being put in place - here's why.

Last year's paddock trouble

The high density of paddock-access fans last season caused quite a stir for drivers, who expressed displeasure at the situation.

Groups of people often mobbed drivers as they tried to return to the hospitality units from their team garages in between sessions, often needing help to separate a path en route to their destinations.

But there were more concerning matters at hand - Pierre Gasly one of many to raise safety concerns after revealing his bag had been opened during within the circuit without his knowledge.

“I had my bag – which I arrived at the hospitality yesterday morning with, it had my passport – opened and I didn’t even feel it,” he explained last season.

“Clearly it wasn’t me and it wasn’t my manager. When he saw that, he closed it straight away. But the same thing happened in Austin when I came out of the paddock.”

Adding further details, the Frenchman said:

“I think letting people in is fine, but it’s true that I feel like some guests sometimes are not really respecting the space that we need.

“People coming in garages before qualifying and asking for pictures when they are not even from our team.

"We are working here and, obviously, we give time for the fans when we can. [But] this weekend I didn’t dare come out of the hospitality because otherwise you just know that you get mobbed and sometimes it gets quite hectic.”

This was obviously a concern for F1 and the promotors, with steps being taken ahead of the event this year to ensure safety for the drivers.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Red Bull's added concern

Max Verstappen has had bodyguards bestowed upon him by Red Bull as a precaution for the weekend.

The Dutchman - and his team - have done little to please Perez's adoring crowd since F1 last visited Mexico, with a team order spat in Brazil last year heightening tensions.

The treatment from the team that Perez has endured in public this year has, in the eyes of Perez fans, been on the harsh side and that was evident in the booing directed at Verstappen on the podium at the United States Grand Prix, where there was a strong contingent of Mexican support.

As such, knowing that the Mexico City paddock was rowdy last season, Red Bull has taken the safe route and given Verstappen protection for the weekend - hopefully, it will not be a headline-grabbing feature.

F1 2023 Mexican Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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