When Formula One returned to Mexico’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit in 2015, fans across the world looked quizzically at their TVs, asking “Is that a baseball stadium they’re driving through?”
The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez motorsport circuit was built in a public park in Mexico City in 1959. It hosted the Mexican Grand Prix from 1963 to 1970, and later from 1986 to 1992.
When the Grand Prix finally returned to Mexico in 2015, the redeveloped circuit was once again chosen as the venue, with one strange new addition: a section of track taking a diversion through the Foro Sol baseball stadium.
The Foro Sol was built inside the circuit in 1993, originally as a large concert venue. That same year, Madonna became the first major international act to play at the 50,000-capacity stadium. Since then, many more big names have played at the venue, including Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, U2 and, more recently, Lady Gaga, The Killers and Metallica.
In 2000, the Foro Sol was converted into a baseball stadium and became the home ground for the Diablos Rojos del México (Red Devils). The improvised stadium/concert venue scenario was a little shoehorned, and baseball fans gave it the nickname “Infierno Solar,” meaning “Solar Hell,” in reference to the hellishly hot and unshaded seats that most of them had to sit in.
When the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit was undergoing redevelopment for the return of the Mexican Grand Prix in 2015, the Foro Sol became problematic. The circuit designers had decided to eliminate the notoriously fast final corner, known as the Peraltada, but the Foro Sol had been built on the inner part of this banked curve, providing a tricky obstruction to work around.
Knocking down the stadium’s huge stands made little sense, so the race organizers decided to go straight through the stadium rather than around it. And so was born a unique F1 grandstand, and one which has brought a true stadium atmosphere to this particular section of the Mexican Grand Prix.
The Foro Sol grandstands can hold more than 30,000 fans, with a series of corners passing through the massive amphitheater. It also allows spectators to get unusually close to the cars and the drivers, with the added benefit of the podium ceremony taking place inside the Foro Sol.