Analysis: How Mexican GP plans to avert F1's second-year slump

New Formula 1 races invariably start well but things get tougher as the novelty wears off. IAN PARKES hears what Mexican Grand Prix organisers are doing to avoid a slump

Analysis: How Mexican GP plans to avert F1's second-year slump

The success of any new grand prix in year one is virtually a given as intrigue in the location often overtakes genuine interest in Formula 1 itself.

Comes years two, three, four and beyond, however, that is an entirely different matter as to sustain that initial success can be incredibly problematic.

You only have to look at the difficulties encountered by events such as Turkey, India and Korea to recognise F1 shelf-life is dependent on a sustainable business model that, in part, ensures fans are lured back year after year.

Last year Mexico became the latest edition to the calendar and proved to be a resounding triumph as it attracted 336,174 attendees over the three days, second only to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Fans, drivers and teams all loved the event, with the financial figures something promoters behind other venues can only dream about.

Two independent studies showed the Mexican Grand Prix contributed $232.8million to the Mexican economy, added to which was $277.8m worth of global media exposure.

Throw in - for 2015 only - a further $242.7m contribution following the construction and remodelling of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and you have an eye-watering total economic impact of $753.3m.

Now comes the hard part this year in trying to live up to such lofty standards.

As Rodrigo Sanchez, director of marketing and media relations, told Autosport: "The race had the biggest economic impact on the country since maybe the World Cup [in 1986], or maybe the last time Formula 1 was here [in 1992].

"The government is obviously happy, but the essential learning here is that when there is equal co-operation between a private entity [CIE that runs the event] and the government you can do a lot of good things.

"It's about having the right people, the commitment and the tools to be able to put this together, so it was something we were very proud of, and something that was really good for Mexico.

"But since the very beginning we've been working on a five-year plan, not a race-by-race basis on how to promote the event."

While there will naturally be many returnees, with their experience from last year's grand prix ensuring positive word-of-mouth exposure, as Sanchez points out it is about "taking F1 to the common people".

He adds: "It's getting them to understand some of the very basic elements of F1, that the drivers are athletes, that driving a car for two hours is not the same as going on a Sunday drive to San Antonio for the same period."

To that end, and in terms of generating promotion within Mexico City, the event's stakeholders will be producing a freesheet newspaper to be distributed on subways, major crossroads, in bus stations and offices, to initially run monthly, and then bi-weekly later in the year.

"The good thing about it is that it is a very simple, small newspaper with quality information," added Sanchez.

"It will include a poster in the middle so the kids can paste it on their wall. It will include a lot of infographics into maybe how a pitstop works, or a diagram of an entire Formula 1 car.

"We appreciate people don't tend to read as much as they did maybe five years back, so we need to create something really visual so the people can get the message really, really fast.

"We need to teach people about F1, and then hope they become interested."

Furthermore, when it comes to the purchasing of tickets, certain grandstands will be aligned with a particular type of fan.

It means any petrolhead wanting to mingle with fans of a similar persuasion will be able to do so, avoiding those who simply want to party and have fun and who use F1 as a backdrop.

"We understand we only have one chance to please a fan, so if they buy the wrong ticket for what they are looking for, then they may never come back," said Sanchez.

"So the more information we provide, then that is a good way to retain the fan base."

If nothing else, Mexico is taking positive, proactive steps to ensure it remains a success, something many other circuits could learn a lesson or two from.

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