Formula 1 drivers have welcomed tighter controls on the number of people allowed into the paddock at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez after complaining of overcrowding last year.
The Mexican Grand Prix is one of the busiest races of the season, thanks in part to the popularity of Sergio Perez, and several drivers commented on the difficulty of moving around the paddock in 2022. Access to the area has been more strictly limited for this year’s race.
Perez said a balance has to be struck between welcoming in as many people as possible without preventing drivers going about their business.
“I think we’ve got to appreciate, obviously, the Mexican fans are really enthusiastic,” he said. “But at the same time, we have to make sure that the drivers are comfortably going around the paddock.
“I think that should be a nice balance and 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, in my opinion, it’s the best reception for all the drivers in the world.”
Many drivers were keen to stress their appreciation for the fans’ interest in the race but said the number of people allowed into the paddock last year had caused practical problems.
“For me, the more the merrier, it’s great,” said George Russell. “But I think 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 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.”
At last year’s race Pierre Gasly was among those who raised concerns over how busy the paddock was, and reported he’d found his bag had been opened without him knowing. He said “it’s been good here and I’m happy with it” so far this year.
However not all drivers found the paddock especially crowded. “It’s a tricky one,” said Alexander Albon. “I do think we do need to make the sport as accessible as possible, so I don’t see such a big issue with people being at 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 the paddock and just little things like sometimes you can leave the paddock and almost run over people’s feet because they’re kind of all coming on to your [car] windows and everything. That stuff is maybe a little bit more touch-and-go. But with the paddock, not too worried about it.
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