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Amlo suggests cash for Mexican GP may go to fund new railway

MEXICO’S Formula One Grand Prix faces an uncertain future after the country’s president suggested his government may divert the money his predecessors gave the event’s organisers to fund a public infrastructure project. 

F1 returned to Mexico in 2015 after a 23-year hiatus when the previous government, led by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Pri), struck a five-year deal with organisers Grupo CIE, a wealthy private entertainment and media corporation.

In the four years since the Pri signed the deal, Mexican taxpayers have handed over around $213 million (£162.8m) to Grupo CIE.

Asked about the status of the F1 contract at a press conference on Tuesday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or Amlo as he is known, said he would endorse it so long as it does not involve forking out any money. 

“We do not know in what situation these contracts [with F1] are. We are going to review them.

“If they are not signed, we will not be able to [do so].”

Events likes these, he said, “are financed by the tourism development fund” but that “is committed to the construction of the Mayan train.”

“We will continue to support all sports but with austerity, without excess, without waste.”

Mexico’s sole F1 driver Sergio Perez said he fears his country could risk decades without the race if this year’s Grand Prix does not go ahead.

“It cost us so much to get a place and now if we lose it, I think probably that will be the end,” the Racing Point driver said. 

“We will have to wait another 30 or 50 years to get it back.

“I really want my country to be seen all around the world to show how good Mexico is. I think Formula One is what offers you that platform.”

The Mayan Train is a £5.9 billion project to build a railway through five of Mexico’s south-eastern states.

The 950-mile railway will link Palenque, home of one of the country’s most famous Mayan ruins, to the beach resort and tourist Mecca of Cancun. 

The president has said the railway, which will pass through Chiapas, Tabasco, Capuche, Quintana Roo and Yucatan, some of Mexico’s most impoverished states, will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

However, many indigenious communities, environmentalists and academics oppose the project, saying it risks destorying Mexico’s rich biodiversity. 

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