Mexican GP, F1 unite to build 600 temporary classrooms after earthquake

MEXICO CITY -- The organisers of the Mexican Grand Prix have launched an initiative with Formula One to open 600 temporary classrooms in a bid to send 9,000 children affected by September's earthquakes back to school.

On September 19 Mexico City -- the host of this weekend's race -- was rocked by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, just two weeks after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake had hit the south of Mexico. Both left huge damage and claimed the lives of over 400 people.

The initiative hopes to allow 9,000 Mexican children in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, two of the worst-affected regions, return to school. The circuit and F1 bosses will combine to donate at least $500,000, with F1's 10 teams also being invited to donate to the relief fund.

Last month the circuit worked with Irish rock band U2, who played a Mexico City concert shortly after the September 19 earthquake, to bring shelters to around 18,000 displaced people.

Mexican Grand Prix president Alejandro Soberon said, "This weekend we want to show the world that Mexico is standing and more united than ever. However, much remains to be done in the months and years to come. This is exactly why we decided to support this particular initiative as we are keen to help the future generations of Mexicans to come out of this even stronger."

In a meeting with selected media on Saturday, Soberon promised some "surprises" from Sunday's show, which is expected to pay tribute to the victims. It has already been confirmed a minute's silence will be held before the formation lap.

Fans have also been encouraged to raise their fists on the 19th lap -- marking the date of the Mexico City earthquake. The gesture has become synonymous with the rescue effort in recent weeks as it was used by relief crews when trying to ensure silence so they could identify and find survivors in rubble.