Mexican drivers delighted with return of home grand prix

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Esteban Gutierrez and Sergio Perez have made no secret of their happiness following the news that the Mexican Grand Prix will be returning to the F1 calendar in 2015.

The race was last held back in 1992 – Gutierrez was just one year old at the time – at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but it was confirmed earlier this week by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone that the sport would be returning there as of next year.

Speaking in the FIA press conference on Thursday, both of the drivers expressed their excitement for the Mexican Grand Prix and the chance to race in front of their home fans.

“It’s great, I’m so happy,” Perez said. “Since I left my home at 13, 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 1 is great.

“They’ve been really pushing for so many years, since I came to Formula 1 four years ago. The spirit of the fans is massive back home.

“It’s great for my country, for all the fans back home and I’m sure you all will be surprised at how good the event will be. I’m just very proud and excited. It’s great that we can confirm that we will have a Mexican GP next year.”

Gutierrez has enjoyed one race in front of his home crowd before, but to have a grand prix in Mexico is a “dream come true” for the Sauber driver.

“I have good feelings about it, because all these years that Mexico has been involved in Formula 1 with obviously first Checo getting to Formula One and now myself, we are two in Formula 1 and I think this is a great step to have a grand prix,” he said.

“It’s really a dream come true for many of us. I had the chance to race once in Mexico City, back in 2008, when we did the world finals of Formula BMW. It was a great experience.

“I think it was an introduction to what it can be, obviously very, very small by comparison but now we will be able to going into the biggest thing in Mexico and to really share with our fans, with our supporters, to share with them physically the sport.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.