Formula E is heading to Mexico for a history-making race, Saturday.
The inaugural Mexico City ePrix on March 12 is ready to energize the nation and follow on from the triumphant return of the popular Formula One Mexican Grand Prix last November.
“Formula E is all about making history,” hometown racer Salvador Duran, who drives for Team Aguri, told CNN.
“People are very, very excited. The fans here are loving the idea of having electric cars racing on Mexico City’s track. They want to understand more about what the cars are capable of doing and what the series is all about.
“We have a lot of racing history in Mexico. The Rodriguez brothers — Ricardo and Pedro — made it to F1 with Pedro winning some GPs [in 1967 and 1970]. Lately, Sergio Perez (Force India) and Esteban Gutierrez (Haas F1 Team) are doing a great job in F1.
“Right now is the best moment for Mexican motorsport for many years.”
Back on track
The Mexico City ePrix will run round the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, making it the first ePrix to race at an historic purpose-built circuit.
At 2.092 kilometers (1.29 miles) it is the shortest circuit of the season with 43 laps set as the race distance.
The electric racers tackle a slightly different layout from the F1 cars, but will still go through the impressive Foro Sol baseball stadium section — home to Mexico City’s Diablos Rojos del Mexico (Red Devils).
Unlike F1’s super-fast cars, Formula E’s electric cars can embrace the famous banked Peraltada corner, albeit modified by a chicane.
“The stadium section will be super, super, exciting,” enthused Duran. “The crowd will be able to see the cars closely and will be making so much noise.
“I just know that the kind of track like Hermanos Rodriguez is always exciting for the fans.”
Buemi still the daddy?
Going into round five of the season, Renault e.Dams star Sebastien Buemi leads the drivers’ championship by four points ahead of ABT rival Lucas di Grassi.
Dragon Racing’s Sam Bird, the race winner last time out in Buenos Aires, is in third place and 28 points off the lead.
Buemi may have some extra motivation going into Mexico after becoming a father for the first time, but Duran believes the title is far from decided.
“Anybody can still win at this stage that is for sure,” said Duran, who only returned to the Formula E grid for the last round in Argentina.
“We are now going to a track in Mexico City that no one has been to before and it can be about quickly you can manage that.”
The after party in Mexico City is expected to be as exciting as the events on track and Duran shared his secrets for a perfect day in the Mexican capital with CNN.
“I grew up in Mexico City,” explained the 30-year-old racing driver, who also won the 24 Hours of Daytona with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2007. “It’s a little bit like London, you have to go and see all these beautiful places!
“I would go to Polanco, it’s the best area in town, and there are lots of places to eat good Mexican food there.
“Downtown Mexico is where the James Bond film ‘Spectre’ was set and it’s a lovely place, so I would go there. There is also a museum called Museo Franz Mayer which has some incredible pieces.
“Restaurants Torre de Castilla and Puerta de Castilla are the best places to eat, every time I’m in Mexico I go there for Spanish food with a Mexican touch.
“After that there is a small nightclub that I love, called ‘Love.’ It’s difficult to get in but the drivers can get in for sure!
“To drink? You have a little bit of everything. Most people love cerveza and the two traditional drinks are tequila and mescal, which is the drink with the worm.”
With the promise of hot racing in the day followed by racy nights out, could the new Mexico City ePrix stake its claims as the best race on the calendar?
“By far!” promises local favorite Duran, ahead of the March 12 race.
“I’m delighted that Mexico has a Formula E race and that I can be part of it. It’s going to be great for Mexico and for the series as well.”