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Mexican GP on course for 350,000 attendance in 2016

Patrik Lundin/Sutton Images

Organisers of the Mexican Grand Prix believe the event is on course to break the 350,000 mark for attendance over the race weekend this year, an increase of 14,000 from 2015.

Mexico's memorable return to the calendar last year was widely praised after the event, with Niki Lauda saying the carnival-like atmosphere made it once of the best F1 races ever. The final sector, which weaves through an old baseball stadium and hosted the podium ceremony, was especially popular with fans and drivers alike.

New additions to the calendar have generally seen attendances drop away after the novelty of the first year has worn off. But with additional capacity added to the circuit this season Rodrigo Sanchez, the director of marketing and media relations for the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, thinks Mexico can buck that trend in 2016.

"Last year we did 336,000... so if we can get to that 350,000 it would be amazing," Sanchez told ESPN when asked about expected attendance for this year's event, which takes place on October 30. "The preparations are pretty fantastic. We are just around the corner, around 47 days from the race, so everything is pretty good, going on schedule.

"We had the WEC [World Endurance Championship] race a couple of weeks back at the track, so basically we're fully moving [our focus] to the track and all the loading, all the production, all that stuff. It's really going very well".

After such a successful return race, the country's first since 1992, Sanchez says the event organisers see no reason to make drastic changes this year.

"So far, we're 93 percent sold out, so there's very few tickets left. I think the response of the public has been absolutely amazing. It's really nice to be 47 days out and only have to worry about seven percent of the inventory.

"The difference from this year to last year is why fix it if it's not broken? It's about enhancing more of what we did last year and be able to provide fans with the right set of tools or circumstances for them to really express that very unique passion and replicate that very special event that we had last year."

Sanchez believes the attendance will be boosted by the fact Mexico has two drivers on the grid instead of one, with Esteban Gutierrez set for his first home grand prix alongside Sergio Perez.

"For sure, I think this is a special year. For the fans it's going to be a treat to see two full-time Mexican drivers at the grand prix, so that's going to be great. The results Sergio has been having in the first half of the year have been absolutely amazing.

"We have a saying here that we go to church every Sunday hoping we can see another podium in Mexico! I think the world would be amazed at the reaction if one of our drivers really performed and really got on the podium. So we're praying about that."