Interlagos to stay on calendar as mayor promises revamp

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7 leads at the start of the race. Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday 27 November 2011.

Start of 2011 Brazilian GP

The Brazilian Grand Prix is set to stay at Sao Paulo’s ramshackle but atmospheric Interlagos circuit after the city mayor assured Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone that it would be given a revamp.

Ecclestone had said the only race in South America could switch to Rio de Janeiro but the 82-year-old told reporters at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday that mayor Fernando Haddad had intervened.

“I’ve just received a letter from the mayor and he’s guaranteed to revamp the whole facilities there, which will be good, we’ve been waiting long enough,” he said.

“If Sao Paulo do what they say they’re going to do then we don’t need to move.”

Ecclestone said the pits and paddock area needed to be improved, as well as some public areas: “They just need to tidy it up a bit,” he added, without saying what the deadline was.

Formula One raced at Rio’s Jacarapagua circuit from 1978 to 1989 but that facility has been demolished as part of preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Ecclestone, whose wife is Brazilian, said last month that he had been unhappy with the Interlagos circuit for some time and suggested the sport could switch to Rio in time for the Olympics.

“It’s a super race track but the facilities need a big facelift,” he said of Interlagos.

Ecclestone said Mexico, a country with two drivers on the starting grid and that last hosted a race in 1992, could expect a return to the calendar in the near future.

“I’m all for the race in Mexico, I think it would be fantastic, really good,” he said. “It’s commercial at the moment, but it’s okay, we’ll get it sorted.”

Russia, with a grand prix in Winter Olympic venue Sochi, and New Jersey are the next two races in the pipeline, both scheduled for debuts in 2014. Thailand is also seeking a slot for a floodlit grand prix in 2015.

“I’d like to get back to Turkey,” Ecclestone added.