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Perez hopes Mexico F1 paddock access clampdown will create “nice balance”

Sergio Perez hopes that a restriction on how many people can access the Formula 1 paddock in Mexico will create “a nice balance” after last year’s problems.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing meets fans

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing meets fans

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The 2022 event was marked by fans who had bought or been given paddock access being overenthusiastic around the drivers, and making life hard for them as they tried to move around.

For this year’s race the local promoter has promised that it has worked with F1 to ensure that there are fewer people in the paddock, and that drivers have more freedom to do their jobs.

The initiative has been welcomed by drivers who concede that there is a balance to be found between access for fans and the ability to move around.

“I think we’ve got to appreciate, obviously, the Mexican fans are really enthusiastic,” said Perez when asked about the subject by Autosport.

“But at the same time, we have to make sure that the drivers are comfortably going around the paddock, and I think that that should be a nice balance.

“I just want everyone to have a great time in my country and I think that's something that went over the limit last year, that hopefully this year can be improved. Because overall it's in my opinion the best reception for all the drivers in the world.” 

Fans waiting for autographs

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Fans waiting for autographs

GPDA director George Russell said he likes to see people in the paddock, while conceding like Perez that a line was crossed in Mexico last year.

“I think for me, the more the merrier is great,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we're all here to do a job.

“And last year, we were struggling just to get from our engineers’ office to the garage without people jumping on us and sticking cameras right in our face.

“It was a bit of a strange environment. So yeah, I'm happy for the paddock to be packed as long as we've all got a sensible way through to get to where we’ve got to be.”

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner also welcomed the move towards a quieter paddock.

“In the end you need to give the fans what you owe them, because we owe them something,” he said. “As I always say, without the fans, we wouldn't be here, just to race for ourselves. Sometimes we tried it in motorsport, it doesn't work. It doesn't last long.

“I think the approach last year was a little bit, I wouldn't call it aggressive, I would call it passionate. It gets at you, especially the big drivers, when all of a sudden, 20 people jump on you, they all just want something.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, signs autographs for fans

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, signs autographs for fans

“For the drivers, I think it's intimidating, when all of the people get a little bit too close to you. Hopefully they can bring that message out, it's fine to ask, but do not go too far.”

Alex Albon said that at some venues problems come when leaving the track by car.

“It's a tricky one,” said the Williams driver. “I do think we do need to make our sport as accessible as possible, so I don't see such a big issue with people being in the paddock, but I do know there's obviously limitations to it.

“To be honest with you, I don't think the paddock has been that bad. For me it's more been kind of just getting out of the paddock.

“Sometimes you leave the paddock and almost run over people's feet because they're all coming up to your windows. That stuff is maybe a little bit more touch and go, with the paddock I’m not too worried about it.”

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