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World Cup, Olympics and now F1 could come to Rio - March 28, 2013 by admin
Surrounded by the city, the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace

Surrounded by the city, the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, photo by Marlon Hammes

Rio de Janeiro could host yet another Blue Riband Sport event with the possibility of the Brazilian Grand Prix moving from it’s current home at Interlagos, Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro by 2016, the same year the city will host the Olympics.


The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo, otherwise known as Interlagos, though seen as one of the great circuits of the world, does have some issues. It needs modernising and space even for this is limited, it is likely the pits will be moved in the near future. Also though a motorway alongside the current pit straight means that no extra run-off area can be added leading to safety issues.



Fernando Alonso had a major accident here in 2003 and in other formulas there have been even more serious crashes including two deaths in 2011 in truck racing and stock cars. In Formula One safety is paramount and a loss of downforce in the curve coming into the start finish straight or a coming together here could even in modern F1 potentially lead to a serious injury or even fatality.



So Interlagos either needs a serious overhaul and new layout, in which the Senna Ss and the pit straight could even be lost if potential plans unveiled in 2012 are followed, or Interlagos may find it loses out to a new circuit and it seems that Rio is willing to build this.



As Brazil’s two main cities there is certainly a rivalry between the two, Sao Paulo on the one hand is an economic powerhouse and the biggest city in the southern hemisphere. Rio is seen as Brazil’s cultural capital though and one of South America’s biggest tourist destinations: with people flocking to Copacabana beach.



The funds therefore could be probably found for a new circuit in Sao Paulo or an overhaul of Interlagos that would meet Bernie Ecclestone’s requirements but he does seem to like the idea of a Grand Prix in Rio de Janeiro: where F1 was last seen in 1990 at the Jacarepagua circuit, itself recently demolished. Talking about the potential for a race in Rio Bernie Ecclestone said “The mayor has told me they can get it done,”.

Interlagos told of requirements for new contract - June 18, 2012 by admin
Surrounded by the city, the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace

Surrounded by the city, the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, photo by Marlon Hammes

Currently contracted until 2014 Interlagos could well have its contract renewed until 2020 but only if major changes are made to the circuit including its saftey features and moving the paddock and pits complex to the straight after the initial Senna S complex.

 

Bernie Ecclestone already confirmed last year that he wants to see the Brazillian Grand Prix stay on the calancer and no mention has been made of any other circuit other than Interlagos being in the running.

 

With the plans and requirements now released though Interlagos will need to be bought up to the standards of new circuits with expanded pits and paddock which should be located after turn three. This will allow for the main, current pit, straight to be moved inwards from the outer wall.

 

Currently the pit straight starts far back before turn 15 where it curves before straightening out, with little space to the outside of the straight before a major road it hasn’t been possible to add more than a small escape area. this escape area was added last year following the death of a driver in a Stock Car Race, there was a similar incident in 2007 in both cases the cars hitting the barrier and bouncing back into the line of oncoming cars. A major incident in the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix on the straight led to minor injuries for Fernando Alonso, hitting debris strewn across the track from Webber hitting the barrier.

 

It is likely when changes are made the straight will be moved to where the current pits are but should replicate the famous curved entrance with the current straight likely to become a tarmac run off area though a gravel trap may be chosen as Interlagos is often used for motorbike racing. Whether these changes will be possible without closing the track and the Brazilian grand Prix being missing from the calendar for one year isn’t clear but they may follow the example of Silverstone and complete work in stages with the new pits and paddock built while the current pits remain in use.

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